YouTube is going to start charging. A newly launched pilot program will offer paid channels from certain partners with subscription fees starting at $0.99 per month. So far, YouTube’s partners for this pilot include UFC Select, Jim Henson Family TV and Comedy.TV, among others.
The online video streaming service offers a free 14-day trial for each paid channel, and once you purchase a subscription on your laptop you’ll be able to stream from other devices as well. The company hasn’t specified any future partnerships, but did say that more paid channels will be rolled out in the coming weeks.
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“This is just the beginning,” YouTube wrote on its official blog. “And as new channels appear, we’ll be making sure you can discover them, just as we’ve been helping you find and subscribe to all the channels you love across YouTube.”
YouTube’s move toward paid subscriptions isn’t exactly surprising, as reports surfaced earlier this week indicating that Google would introduce this monthly payment model soon. In March YouTube Vice President Robert Kyncl also told the Wall Street Journal that subscriptions are “incredibly important,” hinting that the streaming service would launch its own servicee.
YouTube’s announcement also encourages video creators to build their own paid channel, potentially providing a new means of profit for the website’s most popular channels. While most of YouTube’s content is still available for free, the launch of paid subscriptions questions whether or not the website will eventually rival services such as Netflix and Hulu Plus.