According to AdAge, YouTube is about to launch a paid subscription pilot program with a few carefully chosen content producers. These channels will put their new content behind a paywall and users will have to pony up anywhere from $1 to $5 a month to gain access.
YouTube is treating paid subscriptions as an experiment. much like video rentals when it began in 2010. The initial group of channels will be small, likely about 25 at the outset. The revenue split from subscriptions is expected to be similar to the 45-55 split that is common for ads on YouTube. Partners will also have the option to include ads in their pay channels, but its unclear what form those will take.
The general reaction to the news has been largely negative. For some reason, people think YouTube makes enough money on ads and thus isn’t entitled to make more. I find that to be ridiculous, but not unexpected.
Some of this is the fault of content creators (of which I am one). We’ve been giving content away for free for so long, people have come to expect it. Prior to the internet, you paid for magazines, newspapers, books and cable TV. People will pay to watch movies on Netflix and old TV on Hulu but they don’t want to pay for YouTube. How is that different?
I suspect it’s different because they see YouTube as a collection of funny animal videos and performances by talentless people who crave 15 minutes of fame. But there’s a lot of great content on YouTube – some educational and some entertaining.
As far as ads go, I do think a channel should pick one or the other. I’ve mentioned before how much I dislike Hulu’s method of charging me to watch then forcing me to watch ads. YouTube should make this an either / or situation. Earn money with ads on your video or charge a flat subscription fee a month.
Obviously, YouTube is hand picking the start-up channels so they can maximize their chances of success. They want to prove that the model works without alienating the entire community. But in the end, it’s going to be up to each individual to decide if this works for them or not.
There are channels people would pay for and for all the work some of them put into their videos they deserve it. I can see people paying for in-depth craft videos or cooking lessons, a jam session with a popular musician or a series on how to start your own business.
We simply need to convince people that good content is worth paying for — an uphill battle, I know, but we’re getting there and soon, people won’t think twice about paying online for what they used to pay for on paper.
What do you think? Would your YouTube subscribers pay to see your videos?