In what would represent a new chapter in the world of online video, YouTube is preparing to launch paid subscriptions for certain channels on the network as part of ongoing efforts to attract content producers, viewers and advertising funds away from traditional Television!
Sources familiar with the YouTube subscription plans have stated that the video sharing platform has contacted a small group of channel producers and asked them to submit applications to create channels that users would pay to access.
Initial reports seem to suggest that the first paid access channels would cost somewhere in the region of $1 to $5 per month. As well as charging for channels that provide episodic content, YouTube is also looking at the option of charging for access to content libraries and viewing of live events in a pay-per-view style setup.
So far which channels will become the first ones to charge for viewing remains undisclosed, but rumors suggest that YouTube will turn to those companies that have already displayed the capability of securing large followings on the platform, networks like Machinima, Maker Studios and Fullscreen for example. YouTube are also reportedly seeking companies outside of those already operating on the network and attempting to get them on board with the idea.
Sources familiar with YouTube’s paid subscription plans have said that they could introduce the new scheme as early as the spring of 2013, posturing that the idea could be showcased to the public at the Digital Content New Fronts that takes place at the end of April.
The idea of introducing paid subscriptions has been bantered about by YouTube for some time now. Last year, YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar, speaking at the AllThingsD media conference said that platform had the potential to poach second or third tier cable networks that were struggling to build up big enough audiences to demand subscription fees from distributors. By transferring these networks to the internet, they would get a chance to develop contact with their fanbases with lower costs incurred.
A Google spokesperson said:
“We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models…The important thing is that, regardless of the model, our creators succeed on the platform. There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we’re looking at that.”
It is likely that YouTube will treat the paid subscription plan in an experimental fashion, starting with a small group of channels that would charge for viewing, to see how their users react to such a model. Revenue split from paid channels is likely to be similar to the 45-55 divide that is commonplace for advertising on the platform.