If you take a look at regularly produced content on YouTube in the past few months, like Felicia Day and Will Wheaton’s Geek and Sundry or the made-for-YouTube series H+, it’s entirely possible to fill your subscription bar with multiple hours a week of great original content. Maybe not quite enough to watch YouTube in the same way you watch cable television, depending on your preferences, but there’s been a significant boost in quality all the same. This isn’t by accident, Google has been working hard with content creators to help them form several channels of great unique material that can only be found on YouTube.
Ad revenue from a healthy YouTube channel can be enough to keep an operation of 2-3 people happy, but these new channels are significantly larger scale operations with budgets that can only be reached with the help of some guaranteed monthly cash. To help keep the quality of this new content trending upwards, Google plans to offer certain channels the ability to charge a monthly fee for their content.
On the one hand, I love the idea of a small progressive television news channel with blue collar reporters that survives on memberships. On the other hand, YouTube's free model has been so successful that it seems like it would be difficult to overcome. What do you think?