YouTube has launched a trial program for “pay-to-view” channels on the site. Under the scheme YouTube will offer a limited number of creative channels the option to charge per view. Prices have been quoted as starting from 99 cents per month after a free 14 day trial period. Google bought out YouTube in 2006 for a price tag of $1.65 billion dollars.
Since that time, Google has been changing the look of the site and instigating many changes that have been unpopular with users. Changes that have included “weeding” out “closed” channels; a move that cost many YouTube creators hundreds if not thousands of subscribers which in turn dropped their channels ranking and possible income from the partnership program.
The partnership program is another vital part of YouTube that has changed. Initially it was quite difficult to attain partnership status, under Google’s new regime, anyone can partner whether they have a target audience yet or not. This has led to claims of Google manipulating figures to keep the new ‘partnered” channels to a low level.
With this new change of paid subscriptions, YouTube will be taking another step toward becoming more like mainstream television. Although the company is keen to stress that the new channels will benefit users. YouTube is already approaching television production companies offering them partnership if they want to participate in the new program.
One company that has been approached is the Canadian children’s entertainment company DHX and it appears that they will be one of the first new users of the paid subscription channels.
YouTube has said that the launch is part of an effort to enable “content creators to earn revenue for their creativity”. Something which already exists in their partnership program. The other thing that YouTube is keen to stress is the amount of diversity that the new channels will bring to the site.
But this “diversity” is nothing new, YouTube has always been diverse and offers many different channels for the public to watch and to upload their videos to. Google has been releasing names of the new paid channels, with titles like, Fix My Hog Premium (a channel for Harley Davidson enthusiasts), full episodes of Sesame Street, British television shows and National Geographic to name just a few.
Google has taken a huge step in competing with NetFlix, Amazon and Hulu in the alternative to paid television viewing arena. Online media expert Ian Maude at consultant’s Enders Analysis told the BBC, “The wider picture here is that the internet and TV worlds are colliding; the YouTube move will make it much harder for smaller standalone online subscription-based platforms because Google has the infrastructure to make it easy for content to be hosted, delivered and billed for.
To make itself more attractive to potential advertisers since the takeover, YouTube has gradually added professional content, such as full-length films and TV shows, to its vast library of amateur videos. With a user base of over a billion hits per day, it makes sense for Google to maximise its revenue from this potential customer population in the area of paid subscriptions.
Unfortunately, this means another deviation from the formula that existing users have grown used to and Youtube becoming another controlled entertainment resource with more in common with current television broadcasting companies and less with the creative people who already use the platform for exposure of their work.
By Michael Smith