Youtube Begins Charging Subscribers

Perhaps Youtube has become envious of Netflix and other subscription services, because the world’s most expansive and frequented vlog has decided to introduce a subscription service. The news have been received with mixed feelings, with many people expressing their surprise at Youtube’s new strategy.

Youtube is considerably popular largely because of its free-for-all services. So, why would they actually introduce a subscription service? Aren’t the proceeds made from adverts enough for Google?

According to Google, the pay subscription service will be known as Youtube Red. So far, the company has tested it out in the United States at a subscription cost of £6.50 or $9.99 per month. The same subscription cost will be replicated as the company rolls out the service to the rest of the world.

Youtube is already a comprehensive vlogging service that’s increasingly ideal for social media users for free. Does Google plan to reduce the free privileges to trigger people into paying for subscription? What will pay subscribers have over other Youtube users?

Just as in the Youtube Red test in the US, pay subscribers will have access to a couple of exclusive videos, including feature-length pieces uploaded by popular vloggers. That means that they will indeed reduce the privileges for other users. Additionally, pay subscribers will be saved from the pain of rewatching adverts, most of which are usually automatically played before actual videos start running. But are adverts already too much of a struggle that people are willing to fork out $9.99 to be saved from them? Are the exclusive channels actually worth it?

Google projects that it will successfully convert millions of users into paying subscribers. Analysts think otherwise — turning subscribers who already expect free services will not be a walk in the park. According to Brian Blau, a Gartner analyst, Youtube has done a commendable job offering alternatives for users to choose from. He further adds that unfortunately, the introduction of payment channels hasn’t always done well, and the overall adoption of the pay subscription depends on how users balance the pain of sitting through lots of ads and the attractiveness of the exclusive channels.

Ian Maude, another analyst, who works for Enders, gave mixed comments too on the whole issue of Youtube introducing pay packages. According to him, Youtube will never be successful in converting 50% of its users. They will only manage to attract a few subscribers into their pay subscription service. This however, as he further added, shouldn’t be a problem for Google since they have deep pockets and their main goal is coming up with original, exclusive content — not just relying on third party contributors.

If original content is indeed on Google’s pipeline, we should gear up for renewed competition against Netflix and the likes. It would however be largely detrimental to Youtube if the current privileges enjoyed by general users were reduced just to drive them to the pay package. Since the package has been free in the United States since the 28th of October — and will remain so for a month as its being rolled out to the rest of the world — it’s only a matter of time before we get the actual feel of the new Youtube pay subscription.