YouTube Subscriptions: Good for Revenue? Bad for Sharing?

/ May 9, 2013


The long-awaited announcement for the YouTube subscription service, which they are calling a “pilot program,” has finally arrived, starting at $.99 a month (up to $2.99) per channel for what appears to be a  total of 53 channels.

The YouTube subscription service functions much like a paywall that online media publications have been tinkering with. Google, seeking to capitalize further on premium video content beyond advertising, is going the way of Netflix and Hulu by charging users a fee in exchange for no ads.

The subscription-based channels will also show archived content, previews and clips exclusive to Google as well, and the money generated from the subscription service will go to fund new TV and film shows that will also be exclusively Google’s.

In a Huffpost Live interview today about YouTube’s paywall, President of HRH Media Group Hanson Hosein called the move to subscription services “really natural,” as YouTube realized back in 2008 “their future was not in user generated content, they recognized they had to go professional.”

“Now that we have seen Netflix surpass HBO as the most subscribed to, I think [YouTube] recognizes they also have to be there,” continued Hosein, who thinks it is a good idea because as a content creator, he doesn’t like giving away his work “for free.”

Not everyone is happy with this subscription idea.

Hank Green, a recipient of Google’s 200 million investment into premium content, wrote in a private chat that “online video is about sharing, and you can’t share content that’s behind a paywall.” Green has a point; it will be impossible for any of the video content in the subscription service to go viral, or collect millions of hits.

“My hope is that creators will find innovative and exciting ways to use this product, and that YouTube will allow us the flexibility for those ideas to be implemented,” Green continued, somewhat optimistically. Given YouTube’s track record of implementing community ideas, this might be unlikely.



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