YouTube Paid Subscription Channels Coming Soon

The amount of videos available for viewing on YouTube is overwhelming. Some of these videos are amateur footage that anyone can upload and hardly anyone cares to watch. And some videos are more artfully created and targeted at a specific group of loyal followers. But these videos all have one thing in common – they’re free to watch, at least for now.

YouTube has just announced plans to begin developing paid subscription channels, which would cost end users a monthly access fee ranging from $1 to $5.

YouTube paid subscription

The site has reached out to a select few channel producers and invited them to submit applications to create paid content channels. The first to develop these channels will probably be media companies that have already gained decent sized followings on YouTube.  The new offering will give them a way to monetize their content, other than (or in addition to) ads.

These channels will likely consist of professional-grade programs that are targeted to specific demographic groups, such as football fans, gamers, or automobile enthusiasts.

There also may be opportunities for individual pay-per-view videos — which may be a more attractive option for smaller  content producers that don’t have very large or loyal followings. That way, they can selectively offer individual videos  for a fee.  They don’t have to risk losing followers who balk at paying monthly subscription fees.

For companies that use YouTube to reach consumers, the new channels have pros and cons.  They could lead to more monetization opportunities for content producers and news media, if the paid subscription model catches on with consumers. On the other hand, switching to a paid model could present risks, as fewer viewers are likely to see new content if they have to pay for it. And some loyal followers might even jump ship at the news of switching over to a paid channel.

For now, the paid subscription model is being treated like an experiment that may or may not catch on. For users to actually pay for access to certain videos when others are available for free, there will have to be some kind of incentive or proof that the content is somehow worthy of that investment, however small it might be.

The paid channels are expected to launch later in 2013, possibly this spring.


Annie Pilon Annie Pilon is a Senior Staff Writer for Small Business Trends, covering entrepreneur profiles, interviews, feature stories, community news and in-depth, expert-based guides. When she’s not writing she can be found exploring all that her home state of Michigan has to offer.

10 Reactions
  1. Thanks, Annie.

    Well, the price point is good-Google does work on volume.

    Still-from Free to Paid?

    Could be a tough go.

    The Franchise King®

  2. I wonder how this will work out. I’m sure many channels will benefit from it, but I can’t help but seeing some sort of YT riot coming along with it.


  3. This is one of the worst ideas Youtube could ever put into action, in my opinion. One of the reasons people, such as myself, are active on Youtube is due to the fact that it (currently) is free to access all Youtuber’s channels. Those who chose to go with this program will find their channels to be diminished into near nothing because of how people work; free channels whose videos are accompanied by an ad, will show to be superior to those channels that are using this system. To me, this marks the end of the major “power-house” channels that many watch on a daily basis.

    • I think it might be a good idea for some channels with specific premium content. If the paid version would strip the commercials and provide some other additional features then it might work. Freemium model is quite succesfull in most areas. On the other hand that might mean that the free portion sees intensified commercial exposure, which would be really annoying.