Google Could Add YouTube Subscriptions For Premium Content
May 6, 2013

Google Could Add YouTube Subscriptions For Premium Content

Enid Burns for — Your Universe Online

YouTube may soon start charging subscriptions for channels airing premium content, according to a Financial Times story running on CNN. Subscriptions would be for a number of channels and it is likely much of its content will remain available for free with advertising.

Sources say the subscription platform could provide as many as 50 YouTube channels, with subscriptions starting at $1.99 per month. It is not known whether each channel will have its own subscription, or if YouTube will offer packages that bundle a number of channels -- or all channels -- together under a single subscription.

The Financial Times reported the official word from a YouTube spokesperson was there is "nothing to announce" regarding channel subscriptions but they are "looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for users to enjoy and provide [their] creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer."

The article says YouTube has been working on a channel subscription format for several months. If this is true, an announcement on such a service is imminent, and could happen as early as this week.

Subscriptions could bring in content from partners that have not previously provided content on YouTube because of its free nature. The new format could bring in content from TV and other providers. While scripted content is ideal for such a format, The Droid Guy reports specialty channels might include news corporations, as well as other content providers.

Currently, Google gets the majority of its revenue on YouTube from advertising. Digital video advertising is on track to grow from $2.93 billion to $4.14 billion in 2013, according to eMarketer estimates listed in the Financial Times story. YouTube accounts for a large portion of video ad revenues. While the channel is growing, Google is looking for additional sources to monetize its highly popular video site. Many online content companies are feeling pressure to create new sources of revenue to grow income. Google, which relies largely on advertising, is not immune to such pressures.

The new format has the potential to compete with content subscription services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, which offers a range of video content to Prime subscribers. While it is not yet known what content will be available initially or down the line, it is possible Google will make deals with TV networks and studios to provide subscriptions to TV shows and possibly even movies.

Several subscription video services have begun creating original content. Netflix has a number of original shows and has announced a new season of Arrested Development which will be available exclusively through Netflix. also opened a studio that will produce TV-like programming and other film projects.

While YouTube videos are often viewed on a PC or laptop, content can be viewed on any connected device including tablets, smartphones and HDTVs. Newer SmartTVs offer easy connectivity, however consumers can connect to Internet services with various Blu-ray players, video game consoles, routers, or by plugging the TV into a PC, among other methods.

Rumors of subscriptions on YouTube first surfaced in January, VentureBeat reports.