YouTube Changing Its Model: Some Will Get Paid Subscriptions

youtube subscriptionsGoogle’s YouTube is a vital part of the company’s business and ability to reach consumers. The platform has a great deal of capability in terms of marketing, education, entertainment, and much more. In recent years, Google hasn’t made very many drastic changes to YouTube; for the most part, Google has been content to improve speed, quality, and channel design. Now however, reports from late yesterday show that YouTube is going to explore paid subscriptions.

Paid Subscriptions for Some Channels

Like hundreds of millions of people online, I’m a big fan of YouTube. Being able to watch content for free after a short ad is a great balance between paying for content and having free access to information. Users give a short amount of their time to an advertisement in order to see a video.

The system has worked for years for YouTube. Businesses and agencies have been able to reach countless millions of people through targeted ads on videos relevant to their fields. According to Anita Li on Mashable, “YouTube is set to launch a paid subscription model for its specialist video channels.” The launch could come as soon as this week.

Google is hoping that this new system will bring in new revenue from users, not just businesses and agencies looking to advertise on YouTube. As Shane McGlaun writes on Slashgear, “Google has been pushing for years to get more professionally created content” onto YouTube. It looks like the internet isn’t far from seeing that desire come true for Google.

YouTube Growing Up?

A part of me wants to embrace this change on YouTube as a welcome one, and another part of me is afraid YouTube will eventually lose its “soul.” To me and many others, YouTube is a free zone where anyone can generate and share content. If they’re lucky and skilled they can utilize their viewership to get ads that businesses and agencies around the world pay Google to target to YouTube’s viewers.

Then again, this might be the natural direction for YouTube to go. Netflix’s recent success shows that subscription based on-demand services look to be the future of online content delivery. Creating a subscription service brings YouTube more in line with that model, and it gives content creators a lot of options if they know they will have funding.

Now we may be seeing some of the most popular and premium channels get a subscription fee of around $2 a month to bring YouTube better in line with its more mature competition. The first thought that popped into my head is how this change would affect businesses and agencies.

What options would businesses have to advertise on what used to be public channels? Some of these channels are capable of reaching millions of YouTubers a day. Google is going to have to approach this change to YouTube carefully, unless of course the company is looking to get away from advertising revenue, something I find hard to believe.

Nothing Drastic

In the short-term, I don’t think Google is going to make any drastic changes. The fact that this announcement affects only premium channels may be a way of experimenting on YouTube. Having both services side-by-side would preserve the current system, as well as allow Google to expand the way YouTube offers high-quality content. It’s certainly going to be interesting to see where the paid subscription idea heads in the future.

What do you think about the decision to start paid subscriptions to certain YouTube Channels? Where do you think Google is trying to go with this move?

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Patrick currently lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he is studying for a Master's Degree in Intercultural Relations. Upon graduation from Penn State in 2008, he spent two years overseas in Kyrgyzstan with the U.S. Peace Corps. While writing is currently his chosen way to put food on the table, he loves fitness and exercise, which he believes makes up for his avid computer gaming habit.

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