YouTube appears to be going a step further than merely launching a premium ad-free version. It now appears it will also have some exclusive content for paid subscribers.
As we covered last month, YouTube has already confirmed to video creators that it’s launching the paid option, with a formal launch expected this week. A $10 monthly fee is said to cover the removal of ads, plus access to a music service that allows offline play (and incorporates Google Play All Access.)
Now Re/Code is quoting “industry sources” as saying the fee will also include access to specially-created videos which aren’t available to the general public. YouTube will be contributing towards the production of these videos. However, they may not appear online until next year.
The idea appears not to be to target mainstream musicians and celebrities to produce new content. Instead the paid content will come from what Re/Code quotes as “endemic” video stars: in other words people who aren’t part of mainstream culture but have built up a loyal audience through YouTube.
A previous experiment in 2011 concluded users were more likely to feel favorable towards content made by “the YouTube community” rather than major media groups. That could be a key to which content would work well here: while a celebrity video or one that relates to an existing franchise might do better attracting free viewers, that’s not necessarily the same thing as persuading people to pay.
One downside is that the sheer diversity of content on YouTube might work against a paid tier. There’s a risk that even though somebody might like some of the paid content, they may conclude the majority of the premium videos are of no interest to them, making the subscription feel like a bad deal.
It could also be a delicate balancing act for YouTube to select video producers where additional funding will improve the product without watering down its charm or originality.