Earlier this week we reported that YouTube could be planning to roll out subscriber channels for users who generate content. The plan was originally kept to some 50 channels and was pretty hush hush with very few details.
It turned out that the majority of the rumors were spot on about it. Launching today is what Google calls this subscriber channel approach a “pilot program” and content makers can charge a minimum of $0.99 a month for YouTube viewers to check out their videos. The affiliated channels all offer a free trial of 14 days and channel operators can offer a discount if users sign on for a year subscription.
The initial test channels—53 of them—include UFC, the PGA Digital Golf Academy, and HDNet. Some are starting their subscriptions at $10 a month—meaning there should be some quality material on those channels to be worth the subscription.
YouTube has been looking at methods to actually churn some income from its service. They have movies you can pay a few dollars to view as well advertising in professional videos and offering users a way to monetize their channels by allowing ads—which most users have found a way around by now. This is also a way for YouTube to draw in companies, teams, and individuals who create content—such as UFC, the PGA, HDNet—to become a kind of media platform that doesn’t get by on just funny and viral videos for popularity, but no funds.
Streaming sites such as Vimeo and Blip have offered content creators a way to turn a profit for some time now while gaming and eSports site Twitch has given users with a large viewer base the same opportunity by allowing them to play ads during breaks in gameplay.
YouTube has stated that this pilot program will allow for others to join in within the upcoming weeks and have opened the doors for them to sign up and get started on their partner channel.
If this truly takes off for YouTube expect other big entertainment and content providers to flock to it. Users might even be able to view PPVs and fresh movies via YouTube in the same way Netflix allows. The viewer base is definitely there, it just depends on if they’re willing to pay to view content on a site where content has been free for years and how much viewers are willing to pay. As with any service there’s a cutoff point for how much the greater majority of users will pay when it becomes expensive to them and those are the ones that ultimately determine if the service stays afloat or not.