YouTube will reportedly start charging around $1.99 a month for certain channels -- not for the cats on skateboards, but high quality produced content.
Sources tell the Financial Times that the subscription service may apply to as many as 50 channels, although it’s not known which channels those may be.
The line between network TV, cable, and online content has been blurring for a while now -- charging for online video is hardly new.
“Netflix has proven that there's certainly a large base of consumers willing to pay for streaming content over the web,” says Brian Wieser with Pivotal Research.
YouTube would also be cashing in on a huge infrastructure that so far has only been used to draw eyeballs for ads.
“What they’re really doing is capitalizing on what’s probably billions of dollars of infrastructure costs,” says Wieser, “the delivery, distribution, storage of vast quantities of video.”
The move to paid subscriptions has been hinted at for some time. In February, computer programmers discovered code in YouTube’s Android app that indicated the company was developing subscription infrastructure.
YouTube’s ad revenue grew by more than 50 percent last year according to Pivotal Research, and is expected to grow another 50 percent this year. That plus subscriptions could bring in $15 billion within a few years.