YouTube begins charging for some videos
Viewers can pay up to £33.99 a year to access paywalled channels
Google has started charging for access to certain YouTube channels this week, adding another layer to its budding paid-for services.
The firm now allows some specialist channel owners to charge viewers monthly or annual fees to watch videos. Monthly fees range between £1.99 and £3.99 a month. Those who opt for a year's full subscription pay between £12.99 and £33.99, depending on the channel.
Google has partnered with 53 channels, though only 33 are available to UK viewers, including independent film network Bigstar Movies, entertainment channel ES.TV and fitness channel iAmplify Yoga.
YouTube is also promising a broader range of paid channels in the near future, though it didn't give a timeline. The initial list of partners is currently skewed towards niche creators, but that could widen out to more mainstream, established networks with the likes of Sesame Street set to roll out their offerings. The firm claimed that the subscription platform comes after its partners demanded "greater flexibility" in making money from their content.
"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," said YouTube.
"You’ll be hearing more from us, and them, as we get creator and user feedback and build out this exciting offering," the company added.
YouTube already has links with major networks, with Discovery and Time Warner both investing in premium YouTube channels. Last week, film company Dreamworks announced the acquisition of teen channel AwesomenessTV for $33 million. YouTube’s film rentals service, which came to the UK in October 2011, also means Google has already forged relationships with Sony, Universal and Warner for film rights.
A Billboard report suggested that channel owners will get less than the standard 30% cut of subscription fees and that Google is still in negotiations with some of its content partners. Partners won’t be able to determine subscription prices, but any new charges will come on top of any ad revenue they already receive. Google hasn’t responded to a request for comment.