For all the talk of net neutrality, and avoiding a tier system, we seem to be happily walking towards the era of monthly charges. Music streaming. Movies. Games. TV channels. Keep this up and we all will have to cut the cord just to pay for the other services.
YouTube is going increasingly mobile. Google says the online video leader’s traffic is now 40% mobile. A massive sea change from just a few years ago. Of course with smartphones sporting HD screens, it’s not a surprise people are watching the latest clips during commercial breaks.
Google’s YouTube has flirted with the subscription model in the past. It set out a trial run for individual channels to charge a monthly fee, allowing them to keep 55% of the proceeds.
It sounded like a good idea, but failed to take off. That’s why YouTube is thinking of an overall subscription plan. Give users the option to pay a monthly fee to remove the ads. While it seems like the fees are stacking up fast, having the option not to sit through an ad while I watch the Avengers 2 trailer for the fifth time has some appeal. Don’t judge me, it looks awesome.
Speaking to at the US Code/Mobile conference, YouTube chief Susan Wojciki floated the idea of the model. “YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users; but there’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads.”
Talking about the potential models, she pointed out other media platforms and the dual revenue path. “We rolled out the ability for an individual channel to do a subscription. We’ve also been thinking about other ways that it might make sense for us. If you look at media over time most of them have both ads and subscriptions.”
The added bonus for Google is that it could lock in users who are willing to pay and get a guaranteed revenue stream. That would make Wall Street happy, until you have the select bears start questioning the growth metrics.
So, when will YouTube go the subscriber route? One area that makes sense is the oft-touted upcoming YouTube music subscription service. Hey, VEVO music videos without the ads. Sign me up.
The issue is when it is coming. All Wojciki would say is that she’s optimistic about seeing it soon. Keeping the cards close to the vest, and probably wanting to see what Apple does with Beats.
One question that will be on the minds of content creators is how they fit in? YouTube is a shell of itself without those people churning videos. If the model is offered, what will the revenue shares be like? Lots of questions, with not a lot of answers.