So it seems the rumours are true. YouTube has started rolling out some 53 paid channels, which require people to purchase a monthly subscription in order to watch their videos.
In an official blog post announcing the new feature, the video sharing site said it decided to offer subscriptions for a number of its partner channels to offer them an additional way to make money from their content. These partner channels, which now number over 1-million, are those which have enabled monetisation options like advertising to display on their videos.
The subscription costs for the channels included in the pilot — which include National Geographic Kids, Comedy.tv and Jim Henderson Family TV for fans of The Muppets — start at US$0.99 per month, and begin with a 14 day free trial. YouTube says a number of the channels are also offering users discounted rates if they subscribe for an entire year. The videos you have to pay to watch are clearly marked as distinct from normal videos with green dollar signs, and don’t feature any additional advertising — which means that users finally have a way to avoid annoying pre-rolls and pop ups when watching videos.
Some of the paid channels will also be offering extended content to subscribers — for example, Sesame Street will be offering full episodes of the show once the channel launches. At present, the only way to subscribe to channels is from a desktop computer, although YouTube says subscribers will be able to then watch paid channels on their computer, phone, tablet or TV, and will be able to subscribe from additional devices “soon”.
The initial pilot only applies to a small number of the partners and a number of the channels have restricted viewing on their videos so they’re not available worldwide. But YouTube says this is just the beginning, and it will start a broader roll out of paid channels in the weeks to come, giving qualifying partners the ability to opt-in themselves.