The rumors are true. After weeks of speculation and will-they/won’t-they thinking, YouTube has confirmed that it is launching a paid subscription model in conjunction with more than 50 content partners as an extension of the company’s monetization methods.
The announcement was made on the YouTube blog last week, which explained that the move to a paid subscription model came in response to “one of the most frequent requests we hear from these creators behind [existing channels being] for more flexibility in monetizing and distributing content.” That’s not to say the subscription channels are prohibitively expensive; just the opposite, in fact, with most subscriptions costing around 99 cents per month. The average price is expected to reach around $3 a month, although one channel may go as high as $8 per month. All channels will offer a 14-day free trial period to let users sample and see whether they want to take the plunge.
The subscription model will also give Google a chance to promote another one of its services. Subscribers will be able to pay via Google Wallet, the company’s digital payment system that has yet to make a significant impact in the marketplace. Given YouTube’s ubiquity, this could be exactly what was needed to push Wallet into the mainstream.
“Once you subscribe from a computer, you’ll be able to watch paid channels on your computer, phone, tablet and TV, and soon you’ll be able to subscribe to them from more devices,” the blog post explained. Other devices are said to be forthcoming; it’ll be interesting to see whether people hold off on subscribing until they can get what they pay for everywhere.
Amongst the 54 channels available as part of the launch package are familiar brands like UFC, Sesame Workshop, and National Geographic (more are currently in discussion, including some partnerships with mainstream movie and TV studios). There are also some lesser-known channels, including Acorn Media, which specializes in sharing U.K. content in the U.S., Corman’s Drive-In, a channel hosted by director Roger Corman, and the Asylum.net, the company known for creating cut-price knock-offs of popular blockbuster movies for the home theater market.
“This is just the beginning,” the blog post promised. “We’ll be rolling paid channels out more broadly in the coming weeks as a self-service feature for qualifying partners. And as new channels appear, we’ll be making sure you can discover them, just as we’ve been helping you find and subscribe to all the channels you love across YouTube.”