YouTube has long been seen as a possible alternative to pay-TV offerings, with a mix of music videos, television shows, and movies providing the needs of viewers. To truly be an alternative to pay-TV, YouTube itself may start charging for access.
Original YouTube Channels
There has always been original content on YouTube. Once Google had (generally) rid the site of the copyright-infringing clips that were its lifeblood in the early days, videos created by real people like you and I became the mainstream fare.
In 2011 YouTube sought to up the quality of its original content, giving producers a budget in order to create content for 100 premium channels. That process is continuing, with YouTube adding many more channels to the line-up at the end of last year.
The next logical step would be to start charging people to watch these premium channels. Which is exactly what looks set to happen.
Now With Added Charges
YouTube is rumored to be preparing to offer paid subscriptions for select channels, with viewers likely to be asked to pay between $1- and $5-per-month in order to gain access to the content they want to watch.
This is an effort primarily designed to lure more (and presumably higher-quality) producers into heading for YouTube. In the longer term it may also disrupt the existing cable television model buy reminding people they have other options open to them.
YouTube is also considering charging for access to live events and content libraries. Channels in the running haven’t been revealed, but “Machinima, Maker Studios and Fullscreen” have been mentioned.
The paid plan may be outlined as early as April, with subscription-based channels sprouting up not long after that. Revenue percentage splits of 45 (to YouTube) and 55 (to the content producer) are expected, which is the same as with the advertising model.
This is one hell of a move by YouTube. It makes a lot of sense from a business perspective, but is likely to cause consternation among the millions of YouTube users who are currently able to access everything (with the exception of movie rentals) for free.
In the short term I cannot see it working, as existing channels who switch to the new model will annoy their faithful viewers. However, in the long-term it could lead to an à la carte menu of individual channels being offered to cord-cutters. Which is a truly compelling future to look forward to.