YouTube has officially confirmed what everyone has been speculating for the past few months – they will start offering paid subscriptions. It has already signed up over 50 channels in its “pilot program” that will charge at least $0.99 per month to access their premium content, with a 14 day free trial. In addition, you can access the channels from any device – desktop, tablet, phone and TV.
Some content include Sesame Street (which will be offering full episodes on their channel), UFC classic fights, and children’s content from National Geographic. YouTube plans to offer this to some more qualifying partners “in the coming weeks” as a self-service feature.
However, will you pay to watch? Well, similar to newspapers, it probably depends on what you will serve on the channel. If it’s the average run-of-the-mill science content, Let’s Play video or even a daily vlog – then no, don’t bother putting that behind a paywall.
But, sports? That could be a game changer. The BBC has shown us with the 2012 Olympics that the Internet is perfect for covering sporting events – letting them broadcast all the sports concurrently and without interruption. Imagine a similar scenario where you could watch all the football matches from a particular league – live and on demand. The same for AFL, NRL and cricket.
If YouTube pushes heavily for sporting rights – then this could damage television broadcasters.
Whether this could be a success or not also depends on the demographics. This is the same problem newspapers currently have when putting content behind a paywall – we are so used to having it delivered free (with advertising) that if we have to pay for access, we go elsewhere or find an alternative source. YouTube’s demographics are largely teenagers to young adults (it goes to explain why Justin Bieber is popular, and the amount of Let’s Plays around the Internet).
Digital content online has been growing – both in quantity and in quality. Take for example, Netflix’s original programming push with Lilyhammer, House of Cards and Arrested Development; plus Microsoft’s Halo 4: Forward Until Dawn. However, while Netflix a paid subscription per month – it shows that people are willing to pay for content.
The problem is that YouTube is somewhat different – you can subscribe to many channels to receive what content you want to receive. Some may see this as a positive – given that you can don’t pay for crap you don’t watch. Others may not like that idea because it doesn’t give variety.
What do you think?