Today, YouTube has laid the groundwork for a possible future paywall. The new subscription channels will allow select partners to charge a monthly subscription fee of at least $0.99. These subscription channels will be able to offer a free 14-day trial and discounts for paying for yearly access.
Starting today, we're launching a pilot program for a small group of partners that will offer paid channels on YouTube with subscription fees starting at $0.99 per month. Every channel has a 14-day free trial, and many offer discounted yearly rates. For example, Sesame Street will be offering full episodes on their paid channel when it launches. And UFC fans can see classic fights, like a full version of their first event from UFC's new channel. You might run into more of these channels across YouTube, or look here for a list of pilot channels. Once you subscribe from a computer, you'll be able to watch paid channels on your computer, phone, tablet and TV, and soon you'll be able to subscribe to them from more devices.
YouTube is looking to more directly compete with the competition. By offering channels the chance to charge a monthly fee, it opens the door to even higher quality original content. It's not clear on whether or not YouTube will be taking a cut of the monthly fees, though we assume they will be.
It's going to be hard to encourage people to pay for stuff they've already been getting for free, albeit with ads. Channels will either need to provide some better content, or they will be hard-pressed to move to a subscription model. To see which of the 53-odd channels are offering subscriptions, you can check out YouTube's list.