Rumor: YouTube getting paid subscriptions, pay-per-view


Some interesting allegations have sprung up via AdAge. According to a source of theirs, Google is looking to implement a subscription-based model for YouTube publishers who want to charge their viewers a monthly fee for the privilege of watching content. It wouldn’t be unlike the magazine subscriptions we currently have on Android or what we pay for the likes of Netflix and Hulu.

As awful as the idea might sound, you should note that Google is only rumored to be trialing this first, and only with a few select YouTubers. If successful, we could expect a widespread rollout to anyone with partner status. AdAge also seems to have it on good authority that a pay-per-view model might be introduced alongside that.

It’ll be an interesting situation to watch unfold, if true. There’s nothing wrong with giving top YouTubers the ability to do this, but you have to wonder whether anyone thinks it’s worth risking thousands and millions of subscribers for the sake of penny-pinching. I would expect a bit of hesitation from any serious YouTuber to start out. Ads alone seem to be enough for most big YouTubers right now.

One route that would be interesting to see Google go is to offer a hybrid experience. Just like with Android apps, users would either put up with ads at the beginning or end of a video, or pay that subscription (or perhaps even a one-time fee) to get rid of them. This sort of flexibility would please the most people at the same time as it gives people a choice rather than being forced one way or the other.

As for the pay-per-view aspect, I see this being ideal for the likes of HBO, UFC and the WWE. These big name entertainment providers can leverage a pay-per-view system to allow more people to watch their premium programming without needing a cable or satellite plan. I most certainly would love to take advantage of such a system as long as they can guarantee quality.

These are all just rumors for now, though. I wouldn’t expect any drastic changes to be made without proper testing first, and even then Google will probably just test the waters to see if any of this is worth doing at all. It’s said that all of this could start happening as soon as the second quarter of this year, so that’s something we could potentially see Google showing off at I/O this upcoming May. What would you say to something like this?


Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. Im a YouTube partner, not a massive one… this has its pro’s and cons

    1. derp.. everyone is a youtube partner. Throw up a video of you playing with your coffee at starbucks, set it up for monetary and boom.. you’re a “partner”.

  2. lol, i know im not paying for that… Most of us have enough bills already!

    1. I kinda agree, but if this takes off as a cable competitor then it may take the place of a cable bill and save money. I’m not paying to watch a short video posted to Facebook, or the cat montage my grandmother sent me.

  3. What if real TV channels would just die`in a fire and all series would release first to Youtube. Ah, how refreshing would that be? I mean, how long can this TV channel concept last? As long as radio? :( Well well, I guess those users do fund the series I pirate…

    1. but the sad part is a lot of GOOD tv shows DON’T get funded because they don’t have enough viewers watching it LIVE the one night they Air it all year… its stupid. I don’t have a DVR so i can’t watch 90% of the shows i love when they air and the only way i get to watch them is via online, but since NO cable company hosts their own shows and commercials thrown in im forced to use the likes of

    2. it won’t matter. Content you pay a subscription to will still have commercials. That is a fact. The bottom line is media producers and rights holders are GREEDY. Fact number two.

  4. If I can subscribe to content I normally watch on cable in an a la cart model, that would be the ultimate TV experience. There should be no difference between vod and tv. Why always need to pvr is lame. TV is just a matter of adding another episode.

    1. Apple’s tv revolution… by Google.

      1. uhhhhhhh

      2. apple tv never had a revolution. it wasn’t televised. move along sheep.

        1. Please, be sure that you’ve understood before calling people sheep.

          First I didn’t write “Apple TV revolution”, but “Apple’s tv revolution.”
          And yes, it never happened, now add “by Google” to that and what does it mean?
          It means that Google could be about to pull the carpet from under Apple’s feet with this.

          You’d have had more chances to understand if you had read that:

          “[…]speculation over the fabled Apple television has never been higher. CEO Tim Cook went on a PR offensive last week that was most notable for his comments about the TV business; he re-iterated that it was ‘an area of intense interest’ for Apple, and said that ‘TV has been left behind.’ Of course, Apple’s ability to come up with the hardware goods is beyond doubt — whether they could negotiate the necessary content deals and provide a truly new TV viewing experience, however, is less clear.”

  5. What if users that charged were Fox, NBC, etc… premium content for a fraction of the cost of cable TV? then it sounds like a no brainer? PPV for sports so I don’t have to get cable tv for 3-5 sports channels?

    1. this is the first thing that popped into my head…. PC becomes cable service

    2. Exactly. I don’t think they’re going to charge you to watch cat videos.

      Some content providers could shot themselves in the foot if they’re not careful but not YouTube. If Zero Punctuation (computer game reviews) started charging $2 per video, it would die immediately but I don’t think that’s the idea (I know ZP can be watched elsewhere, just the first example of a series I could think of!).

  6. It’s certainly an interesting concept…

  7. This is how YouTube could build a true cable competitor… Most channels don’t make a lot per cable subscriber, just a few dollars a month. I’d be willing to pay a few dollars per month to watch the shows from certain channels without needing the huge cable bill… I barely watch TV, and when I do, it’s only a few channels, so this could make it possible for me to get those few channels, and get them wherever I am, on whatever device I feel like using.

  8. Seriously.. This is a Shitty idea…..I hope this is all rumor.

    1. Why is it so shitty? If I could pay a Netflix type fee to get rid of commercials on youtube I’d be super happy. I’m sure you’d get access to some sweet content too. I see it as a Hulu competitor/killer. I’m sure there will be a “free” version of the video, but with ads of course.
      Why don’t you tell us why it’s a shitty idea?

      1. because you won’t really get rid of commercials. Content providers will put in-content ads. However it will have lesser content providers thinking they can make a quick buck by forcing subscriptions. Yes, referring to those indie idiots who will get the bright idea to make MORE money off their content versus the amount they are making through the current youtube model.

      2. Apparently you are part of the 1% type of people that like to waste money… YouTube was built on always being free. that’s what makes it so great. By the way Netflix also sucks…

  9. Users will DUMP YouTube like a pile f bricks if they did that. Vimeo has much better content anyway.

    1. I only see people DUMPING youtube if they force you to pay, which they won’t. And if the uploader can force you to pay to view his video, well, guess what… you’re just not gonna see his video if you dont pay because I’d be damned if he uploads it anywhere else for free. So, in other words, the only people who would actually DUMP youtube are the people watching the videos from an uploader who is money hungry. Even then, dump youtube? Most people don’t even know that a youtube alternative exists. And since Youtube is counted as the #3 ranking Social Network, I fail to see why people would jump ship unless they charge a mandatory fee to everyone (which they wont). Of course, this is all speculation because we dont know how the subscription fee/service works. Nobody is gonna dump anything.

    2. depends on what content you are looking for. derpie indie stuff can only take you so far with vimeo.

  10. If it would mean not having to buffer and suffer at 360p at times when my 40+mb connection can easily handle it, I’d pay a nominal fee for it.

    1. not the reasoning behind it.

      1. I’m aware the reasoning has to do with money and looking at possibilities to expand YouTube even more but if it was an added perk, that’s what I’m referring to.

  11. This just means that everyone will move to a different free site. Bad idea, the whole point of YouTube is free video sharing. Once it costs people WILL jump ship.

    1. It only costs if the uploader wants to charge and if you start charging for your video of your cat falling off a table, you’re not going to get any views.

      I doubt this would have a significant impact on the sort of videos presently on YouTube.

      I think this is YouTube trying to position its self as a place to legitimately watch TV episodes for a buck or two, like what iTunes does.

    2. This would actually allow companies to reach a wider PPV audience, I for one would welcome UFC PPVs at a reduced price.

  12. How is giving content providers a way to commodify their work a bad thing? If anything, it encourages them to use youtube as a means of distribution and revenue and increases the site’s content availability and quality – not to mention it isn’t mandatory, so you can continue to watch your “piano cat” videos for free –

  13. This is giving content providers the choice to charge for their content. YouTube isn’t about to charge for access to their library of cat videos, that would be commercial suicide.

    I don’t see this as a significant change for the sort of thing YouTube presently has, but an additional service to rival iTunes, Hulu, etc.

  14. BOOOOOOOO!!!!!

  15. I think u r dreaming of something that cannot happen. Cable companies have spent years making contracts with stations. These stations can’t just start selling their wares over on YouTube to make an extra buck. The whole cable rip off has been package deals. You don’t think they have contracts in place to stop fox or tnt to just start playing their stuff on some new outlet?
    This is about YouTube loser Joe’s who actually get millions of views and I ain’t paying for that crap. But then I usually don’t watch that type anyway

  16. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happen. I always thought Youtube could compete with Hulu in term of having shows that broadcasted on TV a few days ago. I would love Youtube to have last night episode of ABC World News.

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