YouTube launches paid-for subscription service to charge users to access content on some channels
YouTube, the video site owned by Google, is set to launch a paid-for subscription service later this week that will charge users to access content on some of its specialist channels.
A single-channel subscription is expected to cost $1.99 a month and will apply to as many as 50 YouTube channels, the Financial Times reported.
Paying customers will be able to get access to exclusive videos, TV shows and films from select specialist channels.
Paying a subscription may also remove adverts from free videos.
YouTube revamped the site and introduced channels in December 2011.
In October 2012, YouTube launched 60 partner channels, including BBC Worldwide On Earth, ITN, the Jamie Oliver Food Channel and Mixmag TV.
Other partners include Channel 4 and Film 4, Howcast and The Onion.
It is not yet known which of these partner channels will be included in YouTube’s subscription service when it launches.
A “person familiar with the plans” told the FT that the channels will show archived content or exclusive previews and clips.
The extra money is also expected to fund new TV and film shows that will be shown exclusively online.
Paid-for subscriptions are an alternative way for YouTube to make money, in addition to its advertising revenues.
The new channels have helped expand YouTube’s audience to 1billion users who watch 6 billion hours of video each month.
You can already subscribe to get updates from channels for free.
YouTube hasn’t confirmed the paid-for subscription plans, but a Google spokesman said: “We’re looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer.”
Rumors about paid-for subscriptions began in January when AdAge reported YouTube had been in touch with a “small group of channel producers”.
The reports claimed YouTube had asked them to submit applications to create channels that users would have to pay to access.
Then in February, Android fan blog Android Police noticed the YouTube app had been updated to include “channel subscribe” code.
The code appeared to describe a function in the app which tells users they can only subscribe to or unsubscribe from paid channels from their desktop or laptop computers.
It reads: “<string name=”paid_channel_subscribe_message”>You can only subscribe to this paid channel on your computer.</string>”
And: “<string name=”paid_channel_unsubscribe_message”> You can only unsubscribe from this paid channel on your computer.</string>”
In addition to episodic content, YouTube is also considering charging for content libraries and access to live events on a pay-per-view basics, as well as self-help or financial advice shows.
YouTube is expected to launch the paid-for subscription as an experiment.
The revenue split between YouTube and the channel producers is expected to be similar to the 45-55 split that YouTube currently has with advertising revenue.
At a media conference last year, YouTube’s CEO Salar Kamangar said that a subscription model would give TV networks and producers of these networks a more direct line to their audience with lower costs.
A Google spokesman added: “We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models.
“There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we’re looking at that.”