YouTube Reveals Plans for Monthly, Ad-Free Subscriptions
By Stuart Dredge for The Guardian
YouTube is planning to launch a subscription version of its online video service, for which viewers will pay to remove its advertising.
The Google subsidiary announced its plans in an email to channel owners, while also informing them that if they do not sign up to participate, they will have to set all their videos to “private”.
The news follows the beta launch of YouTube Music Key, a Spotify-style streaming music service that will eventually sell subscriptions, as well as children’s app YouTube Kids.
“We’re excited to build on this momentum by taking another big step in favour of choice: offering fans an ad-free version of YouTube for a monthly fee,” explained the email to creators.
“By creating a new paid offering, we’ll generate a new source of revenue that will supplement your fast-growing advertising revenue.”
YouTube has not announced how much a monthly subscription will cost or a specific launch date, while creators have been given a deadline of 15 June to sign up.
Creators clicking through to the new partner terms discovered that YouTube plans to keep 45% of the revenues for itself, while sharing the other 55% out among channel owners according to their share of viewing by subscribers.
Channel owners who do not want to take part will see their video settings changed to “private” according to YouTube. That’s the stick backing up the carrot of potentially-higher income from subscribers.
“If you choose not to participate in our new paid offerings, you can change your video settings to private to keep videos hosted on YouTube. Though you can always choose whether to host any or all of your videos on YouTube, we strongly believe that any fan who’s willing to pay for a feature like an ads-free experience on YouTube deserves to access the exact same content that exists on the ad-supported site.”
YouTube has previously experimented with subscriptions for individual channels, although the feature did not prove popular. In 2014, it also introduced the option for channels to use a tip-jar feature called Fan Funding as a way to top up their income from advertising.
Will people pay a monthly subscription to watch the kind of videos that have always been free on YouTube? It’s not the only company testing the theory.
US startup Vessel recently launched a service charging $2.99 a month, with the promise of access to videos at least 72 hours before they go live on YouTube. Meanwhile, crowdfunding firm Patreon has a roster of YouTubers whose fans pay small amounts either every month, or every time they publish a new video.