Cricket fans will soon be able to see the India tour of England live on YouTube, for a price: The video hosting site is teaming up with live Cricket specialist Willow.tv for its first foray into subscription live streaming, according to an email Willow.tv sent to its subscribers this week and information made available on Willow.tv’s YouTube channel.
The partnership between the two sites will offer Willow.tv subscribers the ability to watch games of the tournament live on YouTube starting Thursday. New customers can subscribe to a $99 six-month season pass right on YouTube, with payments being facilitated by Google Checkout.
Subscribers will also be able to catch up on previous matches, and non-paying users can watch highlight clips for free. Existing Willow.tv subscribers can get their accounts validated by linking up their YouTube and Willow.tv accounts, and the company promises that YouTube streaming will “further enhance” the quality and reliability of its existing offering. Willow will still offer subscribers the option to watch games on various connected and mobile devices.
Paid subscriptions on YouTube haven’t been officially announced by the site yet, and YouTube PR wasn’t available for comment on the matter. However, this isn’t the first time YouTube has been experimenting with letting people pay for its live streaming offering. The site also streamed a mixed martial arts and kickboxing event called Glory live from Russia at the end of June, which was only available as pay-per view.
YouTube’s competitors Ustream, Justin.tv and Stickam all have been offering PPV for some time now. However, YouTube’s massive user base and its payment platform could make the site an interesting option to sports leagues who want to bypass or complement existing pay TV offerings. We probably won’t see the MLB or NBA embrace these options any time soon, but foreign sports leagues with smaller footprints in the U.S. market could embrace it to cater to expats and international sports fans alike.