YouTube to try out paid channel subscriptions, says AdAge

The online video service will try to compete with traditional TV by debuting paid subscriptions for individual channels, according to AdAge.

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
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Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Would you pay to watch a YouTube channel?

The company is aiming to introduce paid channel subscriptions this year, according to a story out today from AdAge.

Citing "multiple people familiar with the plans," AdAge reports that YouTube has already talked to a small selection of producers about developing channels that would require a fee. The first such channels would reportedly cost users between $1 and $5 a month, according to two of the sources.

The paid channels would likely be created by large media outfits, such as Machinima, Maker Studios, and Fullscreen, whose current channels have already drawn in YouTube users. But YouTube is also looking beyond its current roster of providers to find new producers.

Further, YouTube is eyeing a plan to charge for other items, including entire libraries of videos, live events, and even self-help or financial advice shows, AdAge said.

Slated to launch as early as next quarter, according to the sources, the paid channels would initially be seen as an experiment, with just 25 or so to start.

The whole idea is to offer viewers an alternative to traditional TV and bring in increased ad revenue as well. Providers would be able to place ads in their paid channels.

A YouTube representative told CNET that paid subscriptions are something the company has been looking into, though the item has been in the news since 2011.

"We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models," the representative said. "The important thing is that, regardless of the model, our creators succeed on the platform. There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we're looking at that."

Update, 10:15 a.m. PT: Adds response from YouTube.