It’s been exactly a year since I first announced a rumor that YouTube was looking into offering paid subscriptions (see Paid YouTube Subscriptions? It Could Happen). Now it has come to pass.
No, YouTube is not undergoing a major shift in its character. It still lets users upload their own videos. And the major source of YouTube revenue is still advertising.
The paid subscription option is currently limited to 53 channels, with subscription rates from $1 to $10 per month. You can sign up for a 14-day free trial for each channel. One look at the paid offerings tells you that Netflix is not in any immediate danger of being impacted by a new YouTube competitor. But this is just the beginning, and it remains to be seen where this goes.
Will this move by YouTube migrate to other popular shows, which up to now have been free? And will viewers actually pull out their credit cards to pay for programming that they are used to getting for free? Time will tell.
It’s safe to say, this is another signpost along “Streaming Video Road.” A signpost to where? Give it a year and we’ll know. My guess … YouTube paid subscription channels are here to stay, and we’ll see a lot more of it in the not too distant future.