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YouTube vice president touts paid subscriptions

The online video site sees paid subscriptions as a way to generate more revenue for content creators but remains mum on specific details.

YouTube is clearly eyeing paid subscriptions, though it won't reveal if such an option has gotten the green light.

Speaking with reporters in Los Angeles yesterday, Robert Kyncl, a YouTube vice president, said that paid subscription channels are "incredibly important" in order to create "additional revenue streams" for content creators, the Wall Street Journal reported today. YouTube has reportedly already been chatting with producers about offering channels that would require a fee.

Possibly debuting as soon as next quarter, the first of such channels would charge users between $1 and $5 a month and initially roll out as an experiment, sources familiar with the plans recently told Ad Age.

Kyncl also told reporters that paid subscriptions would entail "a lot of experimentation." The challenge for both YouTube and video providers will be to convince people to shell out money in order to watch a show. But Kyncl voiced a note of optimism, saying that "over time, a lot of people will figure it out."

YouTube may rely on some big names to help drive the paid subscriptions.

Ridley Scott, who's directed such films as "Alien," "Blade Runner," and "Prometheus," will produce 12 short science fiction films for Machinima, according to Deadline Hollywood. Machinima is one of the most popular channels on YouTube. A "person familiar with that initiative" told the Journal that Scott's films are expected to be part of a paid YouTube channel.

"American Idol" producer Simon Cowell is launching a YouTube show designed to discover the next great talents.

Despite all the buzz about paid channels, YouTube remains tight-lipped about specifics.

Kyncl told the Journal that the company had "nothing to announce" as far as paid subscriptions. A YouTube spokesman sent CNET the following statement today:

We have nothing to announce at this time, but we're looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer.

YouTube revealed yesterday that its site now attracts more than 1 billion unique users each month. If enough of them are willing to pay to watch their favorite channels, YouTube stands to generate a healthy amount of cash.

Updated 9:55 a.m. PT with statement from YouTube.