Blog Post

Report: YouTube will start charging for premium content

YouTube (s GOOG) plans to launch paid subscriptions as early as this spring, according to unidentified sources cited in AdAge. The sources say that YouTube is asking media companies that have already gained large a YouTube following — like Machinima, Maker Studios and Fullscreen — to submit ideas for paid channels that would cost “somewhere between $1 and $5 a month.” A Google spokesperson confirmed to AdAge that YouTube is “looking at” subscriptions.

YouTube would initially launch around 25 paid channels, according to the report, and “is also considering charging for content libraries and access to live events, a la pay-per-view, as well as self-help or financial advice shows.” It’s unclear if the channels would cost $1 to $5 apiece or would be lumped together as an inexpensive bundle.

YouTube’s paid offerings might help the site compete against streaming services like Netflix (s NFLX), Hulu Plus and Amazon Instant Video, all of which are developing their own original content. But the subscriptions would also give content creators with large audiences a chance to pull in revenue beyond ads. And the opportunity to charge might provide brands that were previously wary to put video up on YouTube with the incentive to do so.

Will viewers pay? They might if transactions are easy — Google could integrate Google Payments, for instance — and might also be interested in perks like downloads for offline viewing, or bundles of videos that previously had to be tracked down individually.

Update: A YouTube spokesperson sent us the following statement about the site’s plans:

“We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models. The important thing is that, regardless of the model, our creators succeed on the platform. There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we’re looking at that.”


28 Responses to “Report: YouTube will start charging for premium content”

  1. I see this as PURE GREED. When one of you realize that it is not always “PROGRESS” TO charge for something and MAKE MONEY. Our whole society will one day just shut down over pure greed !!!

  2. Part of the point of YouTube is that its one of the few places where you can find good content for free (especially music). If you take that away, YouTube stands to lose a large number of its users, especially if previously free videos become paid, or if a significant amount of the content becomes paid.

    Honestly, nobody wants to pay to see farting pandas, and for music, for many people, its either YouTube, or bit-torrent.

  3. anonymous

    youtube is screwed if they follow through with this, no one will use youtube anymore if they have to pay, also little kids who don’t have credit cards or any money whatsoever who watch youtube videos all the time won’t be able to watch youtube anymore, they better not go through with this if they want people to keep using youtube

  4. Lucas Bertrand

    Hey folks YouTube already charges for many many movies and TV shows. Go to your YouTube home tab and see on the left hand side it says movies TV shows …if you click on those you can rent the latest release films etc. So charging for content on YouTube is old news. Paying some subscription revenue for channels that are struggling to pay their creators more than lunch money is a good strategy as long as the creator can decide.

    This will be a limited test initially.

  5. Bo Didley

    You Tube is NOT a platform like Netfix or Hulu. These other sites provide movies where as You Tube is mostly a site that provides “the average man” a means to explore other average individual’s personal videos. Yes, I am aware that You Tube also has full length movies’ however, these have been mostly downloaded by individuals.

  6. Jon Veitenheimer

    This honestly seems like a good plan for YouTube. This’ll finally allow premium content to be posted on YouTube, instead of seeing “This video has been removed” messages everywhere. I’m up to subscribe as long as they keep the content in good interests.

  7. dewaynee

    i hope microsoft or yahoo can figure out how to get people to post things to a free web sight
    i wish there was a free model they can mirror like back in the old days oh what was the name of that no let me see was it no i thnk it may have been some thing like free no i no oh u tube. thanks goooooogggoooo

  8. I just found out through a free NYC paper that You Tube will now be by subscription! Does that mean all of You Tube?
    I am a senior citizen with no TV as I cannot afford cable (even the rising computer charges putting a dent in things)! What I watch are the old movies, old Nat. Geo., old History, etc. which I love and all I have to while away the boring nights!

    What options are there? If this is a fact then there’s nothing left!

    Only money counts in this crazy generation!!!

  9. plrproductions

    No matter how you slice it – Google is out to make money.

    While they proclaim they’re helping the business person monetize their content, it still boils down to Google getting a cut of the action – and that’s all they care about.

    You can bet they’ve already run the numbers through a fine-toothed comb. That’s how they know there’s money to be made for them; otherwise, they wouldn’t offer the idea.

    This change is done to line Google pockets and only placed in the minds of businesses to make it look like they’re doing you a favor.

    • Google isn’t hosted in a communist society nor is Google a charity or government entity. They are free to charge what they want for their services. They employ people, rent offices and host an expensive site. Google also has share holders, so they also need profit.

      You are on the other hand are free to take your freeloader business ideas elsewhere. I’m sure it will make YouTube faster for the rest of us.

  10. I know I will not watch channels that require payment. End of story. For example when I try to watch videos on Hulu and end up clicking on a Hulu+ video I just turn around and forget about watching the video. Most videos will never be worth money to watch. It won’t be life changing to watch the video or to not watch it. Many YouTube channels have huge followings because it is free. YouTube viewers range from preteen to the elderly. Minors and those living usually on only social security checks cannot afford to pay to watch videos. And I don’t see many parents overly pleased to have to pay even more for their kids to watch videos than they already do with phone data charge, the phone bill, electrical money, and internet service. Ads are rarely forced on viewers that are longer than 17 seconds. They are no worse than ones forced on those who don’t have a skip option on their television. It is barely a few seconds of my time and I know the ad is helping pay the content creator.

  11. Danny Yates

    It’s not YouTube’s mistake, but the content creator’s error if they keep their material from the user. Old sports games and talk show programs archives would make sense, however for those brands still vying to grow their audience and increase their brand recognition, this limits their exposure. Content is king and if you have old content collecting dust it makes sense, but if you’re creating new content and want a new audience, it’s a bad move in a land already cluttered with too many options for entertainment.

  12. Jason Goodman

    you would still be able to watch your cat videos for free!

    this opens the door for TV shows and movies being released on youtube and if done right might kill netflix and/or hulu.

  13. It drives me nuts when i look for things on Hulu and then click on it only to realize it is only available if i have HuluPlus. I suggest that Google should make it very easy to filter paid for versus non-paid for content. A simple 3 button radio button – Free/Paid/All.

  14. I think Google is making a mistake on making this change. I do think that there is a better way to make money on YouTube by allowing for YouTube channels that are providing seminars and such to charge for special events and pay Google a small percent of it. Videos that are movie related as seen on Hulu or Amazon is fine. But YouTube needs to continue to offer free subscriptions because it is the only free education available to many. That is where Google can target advertising. Having it in layers would be helpful but may still produce the same results—given the recession.

  15. cameron mulder

    I think this is a good move. There are more than a few channels I would willingly pay for to get rid of the ads. Also my paying a couple dollars a month would likely be way more revenue for the content creator than my watching a couple ads a month.

    As long as Youtube allows content creators a choice of how to monetize (or not monetzie) their content, then I’m all for this.

    The idea that it would kill Youtube is very doubtful as long as Youtube allows the people who post videos there a choice.

    • Having a choice makes many choose the option that earns them more money (and lowers Google’s motivation in finding alternative ways to monetize content) , not having a choice forces them to adapt and provide free content. Google used to pride itself that the product comes first,it’s about making the user happy not how they make money.In this case their task is to help content creators make money and making the users pay for it is far from ideal. Most people on this planet can’t afford to pay or just can’t , cards are not as popular as you might think and ,even less so in a currency the content creator or Google might be ok with.
      Things on the internet die, no matter how big . Might take more than one bad decision but this is a pretty big one.
      I have no clue why youtube videos don’t have smart product placement , where one can check out details/specs of something in the video without exiting full screen mode and click to buy.That’s just one example of a better way to make money and finding more (and better) ways is Google’s job.

  16. Huge mistake that can kill Youtube.
    They need to keep youtube 100% free,no paywalls , it’s a matter of perception.
    This will also create a dangerous precedent,next it will be movies , music vids ,live events.
    Youtube can’t be that kind of site or it will lose to a more open platform.
    Google must not lose it’s Google , doing things like everybody else is just wrong.

    • Nonsense. As a producer (of I can imagine several consecutive distribution windows online:
      1. private beta (for people funding the show e.g. through Kickstarter), then
      2. pay-per-view or channel subscription (for those wanting to see something before going public) then
      3. ad supported free to view (for everyone else)

      None of this means YouTube will be short of content – there are videos people will never pay for (farting pandas anyone?), and there are videos content creators are happy to be free or ad supported from the get-go.

      Actually, I’d pay to watch farting pandas…