Addressing the Abu Dhabi Media Summit yesterday, YouTube Chief Robert Kyncl revealed that YouTube is to begin experimenting with subscription fees for some of its branded content.
“You will see us offer an option to all the channels that are our partners to start charging subscriptions for their content,” said Kyncl to those in attendance. The “partners” Kyncl talks about include BBC Worldwide, Endemol and FremantleMedia, and the announcement comes days after YouTube launched 60 new dedicated European channels, adding to the near 100 that the social video sharing site launched last year in the U.S.
“From local cuisine, health and wellness and parenting to sports, music, comedy, animation and news, this new line-up of original channels will have something for everyone,” said Kyncl in his blog post on Sunday.
“They are backed by some of the biggest producers, well-known celebrities and emerging media companies from Europe and the US.”
The YouTube Chief’s comments are not likely to sit too well with TV execs who are already losing, not only viewers, but advertisers, to YouTube and similar sites. Kyncl’s further announcement that mobile views of YouTube clips have quadrupled in the last 18 months, from 6 per cent to 25 per cent, will serve as another blow to the humble television set.
It was also revealed that mobile devices would soon be classed as the first screen, pushing television into second place in terms of how we consume content.
“This is the first screen, so when you talk about second screen, you are talking about the television,” said Kyncl, holding up his smartphone. “When you’re making your selections on your phone and you’re sending them to the TV, something that is coming very soon, when that transition is seamless, this becomes the first screen.”
YouTube has invested $150 million into the new channels and has provided companies with the ideal opportunity to make money away from television. The question is will it work?
As a provider of video content, YouTube is incredibly successful, but will that success continue if subscriptions are introduced?
You would have to believe so.
Look at the likes of LoveFilm and Netflix. Each of these sites charges a monthly subscription fee and allows customers to watch TV shows and movies on demand. Many people thought that availability of films on illegal download and streaming would hamper the success of the each company; however, both have proven to be massively successful, proving that consumers are willing to pay a fee for legal content and the convenience of being able to watch videos 24/7.
The success of iTunes and their video download catalogue is another example of how consumers are more than willing to pay for legal and original content. If the new YouTube channels provide content that people are entertained by, then consumers will be happy to pay a subscription, especially if that fee means content can be viewed ad-free and across all devices.
As Robert Kyncl says, ““The living room is right here in your pocket and goes with you wherever you are.”