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YouTube confirms subscription plans

YouTube screenshotYouTube has confirmed plans to launch an advertising-free version of YouTube that users will be able access by paying a monthly fee. 

In a letter sent to YouTube content creators, the Google-owned video site said that the new paid offering will “generate a new source of revenue” that will supplement ad revenues.

YouTube said that with the launch it will update its terms for content creators, in a similar way to when it began distributing and monetising content on mobile devices three years ago.

“It’s an exciting year for YouTube, as we push ourselves into uncharted territories. But we continue to be guided by a desire to deliver the choices fans want and the revenue you need,” said YouTube.

Though details of the pricing and rollout of the subscription offering were not announced, tech site The Verge reported that YouTube will charge users roughly US$10 per month and launch the feature in the next few months, citing unnamed sources.

YouTube said that the launch of its subscription service will build on the momentum of its YouTube Music Key Beta service release last year and the recent launch of the YouTube Kids app.

“Since inviting hundreds of thousands of fans into our YouTube Music Key Beta, we’ve seen tremendous engagement. And we’ve seen an equally enthusiastic response for our new YouTube Kids app, designed to give families a simpler and safer video-viewing experience— it’s already crossed 2 million installations in less than one month,” said YouTube.

A trial version of YouTube Music Key launched in November in the US, UK, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Finland and Ireland, offering users ad-free and offline playback of music and music videos.

At the time, Google said that, when fully launched, the Music Key subscription service will cost US$9.99 per-month. For this price, users will also get access to Google Play Music All Access – Google’s existing Spotify-style, pay-monthly music offering.

Speaking at tech site Re/code’s Code/Mobile conference in California last October, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki hinted at YouTube’s subscription plans, claiming that while YouTube’s ad-supported approach has allowed it to build massive scale, “there’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads.”

YouTube first started trialling subscription options on its site back in 2013. In a small trial, it allowed 53 participant YouTube channels to set small monthly fees for users to access their content. Later the same year, it opened up monthly subscription options to channel owners that have 10,000 or more channel subscribers.

News of YouTube’s latest monthly subscription plans comes less than a month after Vessel, the online video start-up from former Hulu boss Jason Kilar and former Hulu CTO Richard Tom, launched to the public.

Vessel is designed to offer “early access to the web’s best short-form creators”, with users paying US$2.99 per-month to get access to videos – typically for a 72-hour period – before they are available for free on the web on sites like YouTube.