While we're quite accustomed to paying a subscription for streaming TV shows and movies (via Netflix, Amazon Prime or some other service), the idea of paying for short-form video is something relatively new (at least in a mainstream sense).
We've discussed options like Vessel and CuriosityStream before but I wouldn't really call those mainstream, though I'm sure Vessel hopes to be eventually.
But what about YouTube? Would you pay a subscription to watch YouTube? Soon you'll have the opportunity to do so.
A subscription option for YouTube has been rumored for quite some time but earlier this week it was confirmed. A post at TechCrunch reprinted an email sent out to YouTube Partners talking about the new service.
For now the contents of the email are mostly of interest to content creators. What it means to those of us who consume content on YouTube isn't yet clear. We know that in exchange for subscribing we'll be given an ad-free experience, but there's no indication of how much a subscription would cost or when it will be available.
One snippet of the new Terms of Service that YouTube Partners are required to accept gave me pause, though. As quoted by TechCrunch:
YouTube will pay you 55% of the total net revenues recognized by YouTube from subscription fees that are attributable to the monthly views or watchtime of your Content as a percentage of the monthly views or watchtime of all or a subset of participating content in the relevant subscription offering (as determined by YouTube). If your Content is included in and viewed by a user in multiple subscription offerings, YouTube will pay you based on the subscription offering with the highest amount of net revenues recognized by YouTube, as calculated by YouTube.
What concerns me is the last line. How will a user wind up seeing a creator's content in "multiple subscription offerings"? What I'm hoping this is referring to is YouTube's Musickey Subscription (which bundles Google Music with an ad-free YouTube music video experience) in addition to whatever they call the new subscription service. What I fear it means is that YouTube will somehow segment its content and we'll have to pay for different segments using different subscriptions. That may just be my pessimism talking.
I'm really curious to see how many viewers are willing to pay to avoid ads on YouTube. Thinking back on the kind of content I watch on YouTube, I don't feel like I see that many ads (I guess a lot of the content I watch is really a form of marketing to begin with), and often when I do see an ad it's one I can skip after 5 seconds. A YouTube subscription to remove these ads would have to be really cheap to be worthwhile to me. Anything more than $3/month and I'll just keep living with the ads.
But that's me. I'd be interested to hear how much you'd be willing to pay (if in fact you'd be willing to pay at all) to watch an ad-free YouTube. And it you're a YouTube Partner, what do you think about this subscription plan? I watch some YouTubers who pitch their Patreon account at the end of their videos in an attempt to make some extra cash. I have to think that a viewer who is already paying YouTube is going to be less likely to donate directly to the creator via Patreon or any other service. If I was making decent money via donations I think I'd be wary of the new subscription service, but I haven't seen any evidence that a creator can 'opt out' of the system.