YouTube is reportedly working on two new ad-free subscriptions services that may be available before the end of this year, according to The Verge.
The first of these is a streaming service called Music Key that offers high-quality, ad-free music and music videos. An invite-only beta version has been available since November, and anyone who got on the testing program will be offered the service at a discounted $7.99 a month when the full version launches (down from the normal $9.99).
There has been mixed reactions from the music industry to the imminent launch of Music Key; while some sources say they welcome the service, others have questioned how much of a priority it will be to Google and YouTube. As some of YouTube’s deals with major record labels are set to expire in 2016, many believe the company will offer up the lucrative Music Key service as an incentive for the labels to re-sign. Many music companies complain that despite YouTube being the largest music streaming platform in the world (45 out of the 50 most viewed YouTube videos of all time are music videos) the company still does not pay enough to artists and those who represent them for using their music.
YouTube’s second reported subscription offering is an as yet unnamed service that will offer ad-free content and the ability to store videos offline on mobile devices. It will also let premium creators put some of their videos behind a paywall so that only subscribers can view them. Sources say that creators will be required to partake in the subscription offering or every video on their channel will be set to private. It’s believed that this service, expected to priced around $10 a month, may eventually offer category-specific subscriptions such as for children’s programming or gaming, should it perform well.
Even with 1 billion monthly viewers and after making $4 billion in revenue in 2014, YouTube still hasn’t become a profitable business. The company will likely be hoping its two subscription services will change this - and do so without alienating its audience.