Posted January 29, 2013 3:00 pm by with 13 comments

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414567_money_life_and_cyberspace_-2Is there anything on YouTube you’d pay to see? Critics are skeptical but I think YouTube is on to something with their new subscription service.

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.

Says AdAge;

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?




  • vonrock

    “We simply need to convince people that good content is worth paying for” Resolution or lack of it makes youtube inconstant, watch a movie on my Mac Pro or iPad 3 it’s a watercolor, on a big screen even worst an at 10-15min. sections why bother. I know it’s the quality of whats uploaded. but charge ?
    On the pods and phones it looks great.

  • Jose Joao

    Well, it will be like a signature of tv!

    If you have quality content, will certainly have many subscribers.

    I had not heard about it, I am now seeing in your post!

  • Youtube needs to try this, regardless of initial sentiment. The market will determine the outcome, and as you mentioned they’ll try to maximize their chances of success by rolling out really high-quality channels for this. As someone who doesn’t watch TV and consumes all content via the net, this is something I would be prepared to trial depending on what they have to offer. Watch this space I guess:)

  • i think its stupid i mean youtube is for free videos i mean aren’t the commercials on nearly every viral vid enough youtube. anyone remember youtube like 5 or 6 years ago how much better it was when you rated videos 1-5 stars not if you liked it or not lol

  • When the internet-TV merger is complete, YES – I would pay $5 a month to watch BBC or Channel [V] – as opposed to paying a sat op $60 for a bundle that puts those channels in with a bunch I have no interest in!

  • Karl Smith

    If YouTube does charge us to see all the videos. Kiss my channel goodbye and I think Google has enough money at the minute and if this happens and if other partners like RoosterTeeth, IGN and other major partners start charging. Google, prepare to lose users.

    • Angie Low

      they do now. stupid!

  • If I paid $80 or so annually, I would expect to receive zero ads, auto-HD streaming and basic customer support. I ultimately believe this would be a smart move for them to make because Google’s estimated ARPU in 2009 was about $19 per user. 4Xing that would be a lucrative move for them to make and will keep people glued to their properties.

  • Hally

    I’m an ultra Conservative, so my opinion is that the owners of youtube have the right to do whatever they want because it’s their property. They can become a 24/7 black Panther, KKK, or pro bringing back gladiatorial fights to the death video site because it’s their right because youtube is their property to do with as they deem fit. That whole pursuit of happiness thing and this being America, land of the free and all.

    Likewise, we own our money, and can refuse to watch youtube if it does become a pay-site. Or, we can choose to pay. We Conservatives actually are liberal in that we allow people to do as they deem fit for themselves rather than forcing them by law to conform to our opinions.

    My personal opinion on the matter, however, is that I won’t pay, and I don’t think that youtube should become a pay-to-watch site because youtube fills a certain demand, and that demand is for the free videos, for common everyday people to freely post whatever nonsense, some which happens to be rather entertaining, regardless of whether it was intended to be or not.

    You see, the popularity of youtube facilitates the ability of some who can’t afford to pay to post videos venting their opinions, talking about what concerns them, for faiths to freely make available content they believe will help us in our religious affairs, to spread opinions and philosophies in a forum that there’s a good chance people will watch and see.

    My opinion is that if youtube is not making enough in ads, they need to take the honest steps necessary to ensure that they do make enough in ads so that the site can remain free. Like public television that does not rely on government because they do get enough private funds, youtube, if the demand is great enough can survive and even profit from private funds such as ads and donations. They may not be able to do as much as far as paying for things, but that’s not what made youtube so popular either. Youtube became what it is because it’s free. I would like them to keep that going, however, like I said above, it’s their property, they can do as they want. I won’t pay any fee to watch youtube, but I’m just one person. Many more may actually be willing to pay a fee.

  • Christina Johnson

    I might pay to watch entire movies or television shows if the quality was worth it, especially older shows not on tv anymore, but that is not what I watch on YouTube. I like beauty channels but I’m sorry it’s just not worth paying for to me. I thought partnership, sponsored videos, ads, free stuff they receive, and links to products they endorse that give them a percent of sales they bring in was compensation for their videos? Not everyone is going to be a YouTube sensation, some that shouldn’t be are and some that should be aren’t, that’s life. The channels with most subscribers started out same as one starting today. I’d close my account before giving some of these phonies another dime.

  • Nick

    I agree, I am ultra conservative as well. I don’t have cable, I just dumped family cell phone plan and would not pay a red cent to YouTube! I am a hard corps capitalist, stop buying over priced services, junk electronics and or rip off apps and eventually the greedy will get the message.