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Update: YouTube has officially launched a paid channel pilot program for a select number of content partners that includes the likes of Sesame Street and UFC. Subscription fees start at $0.99 per month, with the option of yearly discounts and a 14-day free trial. At launch we are able to find 53 paid channels, though YouTube is expecting to add many more in the coming weeks. Days before we hinted at the possibility of YouTube being able to compete with streaming providers Hulu and Netflix, and although they are clearly not there yet in terms of content, they appear to be carrying similar geographic restrictions. In other words, if you are outside the US it's quite likely most channels will be unavailable to you, even if you are willing to pay.
The original story is below:
Google is preparing to roll out a paid subscription service for some of the specialist video channels on YouTube. According to the Financial Times, people familiar with the plan have said that it will apply to as many as 50 existing channels, and subscriptions could cost as little as $1.99 for each channel.
The subscription service is expected to be rolled out soon, meaning it could be launched as early as this week. With this change YouTube intends to expand the kinds of content that channel operators are able to produce, including TV shows and films.
As professionally produced videos that were once only available on network television become more common on the Internet, YouTube is looking at ways to leverage the medium and expand their revenue stream using the subscription-based model. In the past 18 months, YouTube has reportedly spent more than $200 million on advances to dozens of start-up channels.
Google has responded to the Financial Times report, saying that they have nothing to announce yet but have been "looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer."
Earlier this year it was also suggested that YouTube could be working on pay-per-view and à la carte options for video channels.
Whether this is an attempt by YouTube to compete with other streaming content providers like Hulu and Netflix remains to be seen, but broadening their content will certainly bolster their existing offering. YouTube's audience broke the one billion user mark this year with the help of channels, and, personally, I can't wait to see Grumpy Cat: The Movie.