YouTube has launched a subscription channels pilot for its site and announced 53 initial participant networks that will kick-off the scheme.
The much-rumoured move will see the Google-owned video site experiment with a new way to monetise content on its site – alongside its core ad-based model – and has already secured a number of high profile trialists.
Among them, The Jim Henson Company has launched a channel called Jim Henson Family TV, which will feature ad-free full episodes of hit shows like Fraggle Rock and Sid the Science Kid for US$2.99 (€2.30) per month or US$24.99 per year. It has also launched a Spanish language version of the channel.
Also in the kids space, DHX Media, which owns a large library of family-friendly programming, has launched three children’s channels – DHX Kids, DHX Junior and DHX Retro. These will be available across a number of countries, in multiple languages – including English, French, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish – also priced at US$2.99.
YouTube also said Sesame Street will be offering full episodes on their paid channel, though this has not yet gone live.
Elsewhere, Entertainment Studios, an independent producer and distributor of first-run syndicated television programming for broadcast television stations, has launched eight new paid channels on YouTube. Priced at US$1.99 per month each or US$9.99 for the full portfolio, and available in 10 countries, these networks include Cars.TV, Comedy.TV, Recipe.TV and Pets.TV.
US gay TV network Here TV has also launched a pay channel that will feature old episodes of Here TV series, while a UFC channel has gone live with on-demand Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts.
“This is just the beginning. We’ll be rolling paid channels out more broadly in the coming weeks as a self-service feature for qualifying partners. 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,” said YouTube in a blog post.
All the new channels will be carry subscription fees starting at US$0.99 per-month and will have a 14-day free-trial, with many also carrying discounted yearly rates.
YouTube first started building a partner programme in 2007 to enable content creators to earn revenues from their channels. In 2011 it then launched its original channels initiative in the US, rolling this out to Europe last year. This saw YouTube invest in original content for the site, offering advances on ad-revenues for the professionally-produced videos for the first time. It has also experimented with per-film movie rentals and live-streamed content on the site.