YouTube is close to launching an ad-free subscription program

YouTube Subscription Service
Ads on YouTube are an undoubted annoyance, but usually a necessary evil – content creators have to eat, too. An agreeable middle ground, though, is reportedly on the verge of launch: according to The Verge, YouTube’s ad-free subscription offering is due within “months.”

The alleged program being bandied about to video creators seems fairly customizable. A standard subscription will cost around $10 a month and include the ability to download videos to mobile devices and watch them without an internet connection. It’ll also remove advertisements from videos, of course, and allow channel owners to lock certain content from unsubscribed viewers.

Some details have yet to be finalized. As it currently stands, the new subscription program won’t preclude separate, cheaper category-specific services like YouTube Music Key. And the service is currently without a name.

The payment aspects of the program, though, have already been laid out. Unlike YouTube’s current revenue-sharing program, which sees the company take a 45 percent cut of advertising, partners will receive 55 percent of the subscription revenue. Money from the pool will be divvied out based on viewing statistics – the more minutes visitors spend watching content, the larger the cut.

Not every content creator will be happy with those terms, but they’ll sadly have little choice in the matter. Partners who don’t agree to the new service will have all of their videos set to private, according to the unnamed sources. YouTube took a similar path with Music Key last year, offering music artists the stark choice of joining the subscription offering or risk losing all monetization options.

Whether the new program will boost YouTube’s stagnant bottom line is uncertain. Subscription web video services are few and far between, but the closest analogue – Vessel – charges only $3 a month for premium content on 135 channels. YouTube certainly has the audience, but whether that audience will value ad-free video and offline watching at a price equivalent to paid Spotify or Netflix tiers remains to be seen.

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