YouTube launches pay-to-watch channels

YouTube has launched a trial scheme for paid channels. The pilot programme consists of a small number of content makers that offer subscriptions to their channels starting at $0.99 (£0.64) a month.

Each channel will offer a 14 day free trial and many will have discounted annual rates.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, said the launch was part of an effort to enable ‘content creators to earn revenue for their creativity’.

There will be 53 channels offer paid subscriptions as part of the pilot and subscribers can pay using their credit cards or through Google’s own Wallet service.

The paid channels have been described as niche, and range from the National Geographic, to Fix My Hog – aimed a Harley Davidson enthusiasts.

In a blog post YouTube said: “This is just the beginning. We’ll be rolling paid channels out more broadly in the coming weeks as a self-service feature for qualifying partners.

“And as new channels appear, we’ll be making sure you can discover them.”

Paid channels on YouTube means Google joins Netflix and Amazon in offering subscription based alternatives to traditional pay-TV.

Ian Maude, an online media expert at Ender Analysis consultants said: “The wider picture here is that the internet and TV worlds are colliding.

“The YouTube move will make it much harder for smaller standalone online subscription-based platforms because Google has the infrastructure to make it easy for content to be hosted, delivered and billed for.

“But it was always inevitable that Google was going to do this.”

Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65bn. The video sharing platform is believed to generate small revenue from advertising, but historically the vast majority of content has been free to watch.

YouTube has around a billion people using the service every month.

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