While YouTube has been free since day one, change has begun. YouTube isn’t going to require you to pay to watch cute kittens, movie trailers or insane stunts. Instead, the site is adding to its offerings by adding a selection of paid subscription channels. As most expected, YouTube couldn’t stay completely free forever. With the inception of in-video ads, it was only a matter of time before paid subscriptions became a reality.
* The pilot program launched on May 9, 2013. As a pilot program, it could change or end at any time.
* The program will allow channel owners to control whether users must pay to view the channel’s content. Subscriptions currently begin at only 99 cents, but the channel owner can set higher rates and even offer discounts for year long subscriptions.
* Currently, all paid channels must offer a 14-day trial. This would encourage channels to continue uploading content to prevent users from viewing all content and leaving after the trial.
* While the program will roll out to more “qualifying partners” in the coming weeks, only 53 paid channels are currently available.
* Once a user subscribes, they’ll be able to view paid content on all their favorite devices, including Internet connected TVs.
* The idea is to offer users more targeted content. For users who are tired of paying $100 or more a month for a slew of cable or satellite channels they never watch, the idea of subscribing to their favorite channel on YouTube would be extremely tempting. If the user only watched a few stations regularly, they could easily save $50 or more depending on the channel subscription costs.
* YouTube isn’t necessarily trying to become like NetFlix. Instead, Google wants to work with partners to let them control what they offer to their viewers at any given time.
* At the moment, over one million channels are earning revenue from their videos on YouTube. The pilot program is in response to creators wanting more ways to monetize their content.
* The first batch of available paid channels range from kid friendly to prime time fights.
* While some may see it as a move to take viewers away from satellite and cable, TechHive sees it more as additional offerings from content providers instead of a solid replacement. Plus, the available channels don’t offer much competition at the moment.
* Wired.com sees the move as a great way for YouTube to compliment their current ad-revenue model. Still, they see ads as the main source of income for the time being.
The likelihood of most channels becoming subscription based is slim to none. Most channel creators will prefer to continue using the ad based revenue option versus paid subscription based as many users will likely seek free content over subscribing. For now, YouTube will still be almost completely free for the world to enjoy.