AdAge reports that YouTube is preparing to launch paid subscriptions for individual channels, citing sources familiar with the matter. YouTube is said to have reached out to a "small group" of channel producers, asking them to create paid channels that will cost between $1 and $5 a month. The report also states that YouTube is considering charging access to live events and libraries of content. AdAge says that it's not certain which channels will debut this year as part of the premium subscription model, but suggests that YouTube will look to existing high-performing channels like Machinima as well as potential new partners that don't currently run a channel on the video sharing site.
YouTube already offers pay-per-view content like movies and television shows, but paid channel subscriptions would make it more of an a la carte content provider. The company has invested heavily in its Channels strategy, including a $200 million investment back in May for premier content partners -- though it's not clear yet if the original content strategy will work in the long-term. (It was reported in November that YouTube will cut at least 60 percent of its programming deals.) Partners will reportedly have the option to include ads in paid channels, which could help struggling channel partners to gain an additional stream of revenue for their programs.
AdAge says that YouTube will treat paid subscriptions as an experiment, and that the initial group of channels could be limited to about 25. The revenue split between YouTube and partners is reportedly expected to be similar to the existing advertising arrangement. In a statement given to AdAge, a Google spokesperson says that "we have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models. The important thing is that, regardless of the model, our creators succeed on the platform."
Update: A YouTube spokesperson responded to our request for confirmation with the same statement provided to AdAge:
We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models. 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.