Paid subscriptions are coming to YouTube, possibly as soon as Q2 of this year. This won’t be something like Hulu Plus, where you pay one monthly fee for a lump sum of paid content, at least at the outset. YouTube is asking for proposals from a few major and consistent YouTube content producers – like Machinima, Maker Studios, and Fullscreen – for paid channels that would cost between $1 and $5 per month, per channel. Additionally, paid live streaming events, like concerts, could move to a pay-per-view model in the future.
It almost goes without saying in this era, but advertising dollars appear to be the main purpose behind the decision. Granted, viewership will ultimately determine the success or failure of paid YouTube channels. If the viewers do come, YouTube management is hoping that YouTube will be able to start snagging away viewers from cable TV. They’re even hoping to steal away some less popular cable channels, by providing an outlet with far more creative control than what television offers.
The tricky part is actually getting people to pay money for these channels, which might be easier said than done. Original YouTube programming has gained a little in the way of popularity over the years, but a big part of that has been free content. Making that content paid instantly becomes a much harder sell, and it’s not like YouTube is a lightning rod for viewer interest in original programming (at least not yet). On top of that, you can almost be assured that this paid content will come with ads. And, if there’s one thing true about the information era, it’s that the only thing people like less than paying for things is paying for things that also have ads.
Oh, and don’t worry. Your cat videos will be staying nice and free – at least until someone goes and makes a paid cat video channel, and all the top cat video content creators get on board. If that happens, we’ll all be in trouble.
Via Ad Age