It seems that all those pre-roll and pop up ads just weren’t enough. If Google has its way you could soon be paying to watch videos on YouTube.
According to a report by The Financial Times, the company is just days away from launching a paid-for subscription service, which would require users to pay between US$1 and US$5 a month to watch the videos posted by some specialist channels. It said that YouTube invited a small number of users to submit proposals back in January to be part of the first round of paid channels, and plans to launch the option officially as soon as this week.
A spokesperson told the Times that the company was “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.”
It’s a move that makes sense for the world’s third most visited website, given the success of paid-for video services like Netflix. YouTube currently derives most of its income from advertising, and splits part of the revenue from ads with certain partner channels if they allow their videos to be monetized. The revenue from YouTube’s partner program is substantial — it has doubled every year for the past four years, and has led to viral videos like Gangnam Style generating some US$8-million in advertising deals. It also offers a paid-for rentals service, which is currently in beta and only available to channel owners in the US.
By offering subscriptions, YouTube could open up yet another revenue stream for both itself and its partners. It also makes the platform an even more potentially valuable consideration for more professional video producers, who could finance new series through the subscription revenue. According to the Times, cable and satellite channels are also interested in how subscriptions could make them money on everything from popular older shows to the latest episodes of new programs.