Jan 29th, 2013

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?


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