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In brief: YouTube is an advertising-based business as its core, but the Google-owned sharing platform is also finding success in the subscription space. According to YouTube CEO Neal Mohan, the company now has a combined 100 million subscribers between YouTube Premium and YouTube Music.
YouTube Premium primarily provides ad-free access to YouTube videos, and is priced at $13.99 per month. YouTube Music is the company's music streaming service, and comes as part of YouTube Premium (or separately, if you choose).
As Forbes correctly highlights, only a fraction of YouTube's overall user base of 2.5 billion people are subscribed. Still, it is a start and puts the company in a position to eventually catch up to streaming frontrunners like Spotify and Amazon.
In its latest earnings report, Spotify said it had 226 million Premium (paying) subscribers. Amazon does not share Prime subscriber numbers but is believed to have had around 176 million subs at the end of 2023.
Worth noting is the fact that YouTube included current one-month free trials in its 100 million subscriber tally, but wouldn't say how many of the total were trial subs.
During a recent earnings call, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai said Google's subscriptions – which also include services like YouTube TV (and the NFL Sunday Ticket add-on) and the Google One could storage service – collectively brought in $15 billion in revenue last year. Of course, Pichai didn't provide a breakdown of how much each service generated so it is hard to draw any solid conclusions. The executive did say, however, that Premium and Music have "real momentum."
In the fourth quarter, YouTube as a whole generated $9.2 billion. That is up 15.5 percent compared to the same period a year earlier.
YouTube's willingness to embrace the subscription model is not surprising, especially when the advertising model continues to come under fire. Should regulations come about that hamper targeted advertising practices, YouTube and others will have subscriptions to fall back on.