After months of rumors, YouTube’s paid subscription service has finally launched. The pilot program, which kicked off with select partners on Thursday, enables content creators charge subscription fees for access to their channels. But while a new revenue stream is welcomed, it’ll be a challenge to convert current viewers.
Video creators have been able to earn revenue through YouTube’s Partner Program; however, many advertisers aren’t satisfied with the money banner ads and pre-roll clips are bringing in. Now YouTube is giving creators behind these channels more flexibility in monetizing and distributing their content.
Subscriptions will start at $0.99 per month, and every channel will offer a 14-day free trial as well as discounted yearly rates. Early partners include Sesame Street, which will be offering full episodes on its paid channel, and UFC Select, which will begin airing full versions of classic fights. A full list of current partners can be viewed on YouTube.
Not every brand will be a good fit for a paid-subscription. If your YouTube Channel is currently made up of product tutorials and customer service videos, you’ll probably want to stick to more traditional advertising methods. That is, as long as YouTube plans on keeping banner and pre-roll ads. It seems like the company will continue serving them during the roll out of paid channels, but there’s no word on whether they’ll be sticking around long-term.
Also, keep in mind that viewers might not like the idea of paying for content, especially if it’s currently available for free. It’ll be a challenge converting viewers to paid subscribers, so make sure you give them a reason to want to subscribe by offering premium content they can’t find anywhere else. This poses an additional challenge for smaller teams that might not have the budget or bandwidth required to create exclusive content.
“This is just the beginning,” YouTube stated on its blog. “We’ll be rolling paid channels out more broadly in the coming weeks as a self-service feature for qualifying partners.” If you’re interested in starting a paid channel, you can nominate your channel for consideration by filling out this form.
Jennifer Beese: Jennifer Beese has worked as a community manager and social media strategist. When she’s not writing, you can find her studying anatomy and physiology—she literally has a skeleton in her closet—or under the stars with her telescope.