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YouTube 'to experiment with paid subscriptions'

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YouTube, the Google-owned video website, reportedly plans to experiment with paid subscriptions on some professionally produced channels as it moves towards being an overall media platform.

Earlier in the week, Advertising Age reported that paid channels on YouTube could be introduced as early as April, and the site has already reached out to its channel partners.

YouTube redesign with new look subscription channels

© YouTube



YouTube has not commented on the report, but its director of content strategy Jamie Byrne told a television conference this week that "it's a good time to start experimenting", according to The New York Times.

YouTube typically makes money via online advertising and that is likely to remain the same.

But the site has recently been expanding its offering beyond just user-generated short videos to professionally-produced channels.

Many content creators would like to be able to charge a small monthly fee for access to their content. This would potentially allow YouTube to take a cut of sales.

Following the success of Netflix, Hulu and LoveFilm, people are now comfortable with the concept of paying a subscription for video content online.

YouTube has massive reach as a social network and could offer media firms a new and powerful way to monetise their video content.

Advertising Age's sources said that there could be around 25 channels taking part in the YouTube subscription option pilot at first, with users being charged between $1 and $5 per month.

The report also said that YouTube may consider charging for access to its content libraries and live events, potentially on a pay-per-view basis.

YouTube redesign with new look subscription channels

© YouTube



A spokesman for Google declined to comment on the speculation, but did say that the firm has "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," he said.

"There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we're looking at that."

YouTube certainly has long-term goals to become more of an overall media platform. Last autumn, its parent company Google announced plans to invest $200 million to market the new channels on YouTube.

Many services have already launched in the US and internationally, and Byrne said that the scheme is "going great".

Speaking at the TV conference, Byrne said that there were two ways for YouTube to potentially charge for content.

It could either allow content creators to have standalone paid channels, and be responsible for all the content.

Alternatively, the site could bundle several related subscription channels together and charge a single price for them, similar to the method used by traditional cable and satellite TV providers.

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