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Pay to play: YouTube may offer paid subscriptions soon

YouTube may have ads, but at least it’s free. That’s always been the reasoning behind the video-watching site’s popularity. Over the past year, many reports have hinted that YouTube is working on a paid subscription model for its music videos and other key content. Now, CEO Susan Wojcicki has spoken — YouTube will soon offer ad-free subscriptions to those who are willing to pay a small monthly fee.

Wojcicki revealed the company’s plans during Recode’s Code/Mobile conference. “YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users; but there’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads,” Wojcicki said, adding that consumers “will either choose ads, or pay a fee, which is an interesting model. … We’re thinking about how to give users options.”

She also said that 50 percent of all YouTube viewers watch videos on mobile devices, but even so, watch times are increasing. YouTube has already adjusted its layout to suit mobile viewers and the paid subscription model may be the next step. Wojcicki believes that there is always a certain customer base that wants access to video without the ads and those users will be willing to pay a small amount each month to be ad-free. After all, the paid subscription model seems to be working fairly well for Spotify and other streaming apps like Netflix.

Although she didn’t reveal any details about YouTube’s paid music service subscription, Wojcicki did say that it’s ready to go live and hinted that it may be coming sooner than we think. Based on her comments, it seems likely that YouTube will continue to let users watch videos for free if they don’t mind ads, but offer the option of a subscription for those who do.