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YouTube gears up for pay channels

YouTube is preparing to roll out subscriptions for some of its on-site channels for the first time later this year in the latest development of its premium content drive, according to reports.

Ad Age reported yesterday that YouTube was gearing up to introduce subscription channels by as early as the second quarter, and had reached out to a small number of producers asking them to submit paid channel applications. The FT and Wall Street Journal also later ran with the story.

The first pay channels will likely cost viewers between US$1 and US$5 per-month, with YouTube also said to be interested in charging for access to content libraries and live events – a shift away from its core ad-based model that could see it more closely challenge premium VoD rivals like Hulu or Netflix.

A YouTube spokeswoman confirmed that subscriptions – which the video hub has cited previously as a possibility – are something the firm is “looking at,” but would not comment on its precise 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,” the spokeswoman told C21.

This comes after YouTube boss Salar Kamangar said at a conference last year that though advertising remains a priority “we do expect over time to see micropayments and other forms of subscription models coming as well.”

YouTube started experimenting with film rentals on the site in the US in May 2011 and brought the trial to Europe later that year.

In 2011 it also kicked off its 100 premium channels initiative in the US with a reported US$100m investment, taking the scheme to Europe last October. The site has also started airing selected live events, such as the recent high-profile Red Bull space skydive.



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