NEW YORK (AFP) – YouTube on Thursday launched a pilot program of paid channels for its online video service, calling it part of an effort “that enables content creators to earn revenue for their creativity.”
The Google-owned video-sharing service said the launch with “a small group of partners” starts Thursday with subscription fees starting at 99 cents per month.
“Every channel has a 14-day free trial, and many offer discounted yearly rates,” a YouTube blog post said.
“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.”
Google bought YouTube in 2006 for $1.65 billion. The service is believed to generate a small amount of revenue from advertising, but the content has been free.
YouTube has gradually added professional content, such as full-length television shows and movies to its vast trove of amateur video offerings in a bid to attract advertisers.
The new paid channels include Acorn TV, which offers British TV programs at $4.99 per month; National Geographic Kids, at $2.99 a month or $30 a year; and PrimeZone Sports, at $2.99 per month.
Earlier this year Google said more than a billion people use YouTube each month, with viewing on smartphones helping drive growth.
“If YouTube were a country, we’d be the third largest in the world after China and India,” the team said in March.
YouTube confirmed early this year that its evolution as an Internet stage for video may include subscriptions to content that creators expect people would pay to watch.