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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Would You Pay for YouTube?

Posted by on Wed, Jan 30, 2013 at 7:15 AM

Geek.com says:

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?

 

Comments (28) RSS

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Theodore Gorath 1
The weird thing about people is, if they are used to getting something for free and then someone makes them pay for it, they will refuse to pay for it, even if it is a service they normally would pay for.

This strikes a very primitive social response in our brains that screams "unfair!"

Posted by Theodore Gorath on January 30, 2013 at 7:29 AM · Report this
Sir Vic 2
Maybe I'm the only one that still gets the occasional buffering situation on YouTube, but that would be a deal-breaker for a pay service.
Posted by Sir Vic on January 30, 2013 at 7:50 AM · Report this
3
I really want cable channels a la carte. Mainly because I only really want about 4 channels and paying $80/month for 200 is not something I'm at all willing to do. But a few dollars per channel so that I can watch the few things that I do want to watch is something I'd be game for. Theoretically, at least. I don't have Netflix or Hulu+ or anything else so maybe not. But theoretically, yes!
Posted by moosefan on January 30, 2013 at 7:51 AM · Report this
passionate_jus 4
I wouldn't call it garbage but I'm not going to pay for it either.
Posted by passionate_jus on January 30, 2013 at 7:52 AM · Report this
delirian 5
Internet media needs to have a funding source. Yeah, I know that people like free things and all, but our national media is being decimated! Ads aren't going to work. The revenue simply isn't there.

My hope is that groups band together in a model similar to cable television where the end user pays one fee to access multiple content providers. People don't want to pay an individual fee to every single channel. It is too much of a pain in the ass. But if some fraction of your fee went to the content providers based on how much you used them, I think there would be a lot of media and entertainment groups that could survive.

The biggest problem is to prevent something similar to the monopolistic bullshit of cable companies. I don't have a great solution to that, but I think their model is far better than letting our national media melt away. Maybe a nonprofit could run it?
Posted by delirian on January 30, 2013 at 7:56 AM · Report this
6
@5 - you read like a Newsweek article from 1986. The cable model is terrible for the consumer, the content creators, the government, and literally everyone else except the people who own the cable companies. The national media can't die fast enough.
Posted by johnjjeeves on January 30, 2013 at 8:02 AM · Report this
7
I agree with @1. It's a well-known marketing fact that when you give something away for free, consumers learn that it's not worth paying for. Google would be well advised to create another channel if they want to create an online pay streaming service for original content. Maybe call it YouTube plus or Google TV or something totally different that won't risk the current brands.
Posted by David from Chicago on January 30, 2013 at 8:03 AM · Report this
delirian 8
@6: Where is the money for journalism then? As I've said, it doesn't exist in ads. I don't care about letting dinosaurs die, but I do think that our national media is a key protective element in our country. I fear what will happen when the government and corporations have free reign without the media to reign them in.
Posted by delirian on January 30, 2013 at 8:17 AM · Report this
9
I would pay to watch a sitcom about a "small progressive television news channel with blue collar reporters". If the cast broke into song now and then I might pay kind of a lot.
Posted by gloomy gus on January 30, 2013 at 8:24 AM · Report this
Knat 10
I love the idea of a small progressive television news channel with blue collar reporters...

You mean like The Young Turks channel, for instance? I'm not sure you could call them blue collar per se, since broadcasting and journalism are white collar professions.

The proposition of a for-pay YouTube model is pretty preposterous. People went berserk when Netflix increased their rates (from $10 to $16, if you use both streaming and by-mail services), to the point that people are still griping about it. And that's for a service people were already paying for. As Theodore remarked @1, going from free to a pay model is an even taller hurdle. And if they did move to an entirely for-pay system, they'd need to change their name, as they'd be betraying he very foundational premise of what YouTube was at its creation.
Posted by Knat on January 30, 2013 at 8:26 AM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 11
It would finally kill off You Tube and that's not really a negative
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on January 30, 2013 at 8:39 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 12
The beauty of YT for me is the fluidity of accessing the content. Not having to log in, and swiftly browsing through sets of videos...I go from World's Luckiest People to Building Implosions to videos of the 2004 tsunami.

It tends to be a different experience from the Netflix log in and sit and watch "a movie" one. More like web surfing. People still do that..don't they..or do they just sit on Facebook for hours...
Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://www.you-read-it-here-first.com on January 30, 2013 at 8:42 AM · Report this
Pick1 13
Where is the option for "This could be a good idea, but I would probably never use a YouTube pay service."

That's where I am.
Posted by Pick1 on January 30, 2013 at 8:45 AM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 14
@1,7,
Except for drugs. That's like their whole marketing scheme... "no, no, don't worry about paying for it. This one's on me. Go ahead, take some extra for your friends too."
Posted by Urgutha Forka on January 30, 2013 at 9:42 AM · Report this
rob! 15
Sitcom about a scrappy little alt-weekly somewhere in the Northwest, please.

With the occasional song, por favor.
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on January 30, 2013 at 9:43 AM · Report this
16
I'd pay a small fee if it got me:
- no ads.
- ability to (at least temporarily) save content for offline viewing.

I wish they had some way to just stream the audio without video for mobile music listening.
Posted by chrisgreen on January 30, 2013 at 9:55 AM · Report this
17
@14 Good point. The reason that you can give away free samples of drugs to get users hooked is because demand is inelastic and drugs are not fungible. If Youtube were the only available source of videos, Google could start charging a fee even after providing it free for years.
Posted by David from Chicago on January 30, 2013 at 10:04 AM · Report this
18
I just paid a dollar last night to watch a kids program that my son likes. He was super happy and I considered it a dollar well spent.
Posted by clint on January 30, 2013 at 10:29 AM · Report this
NatL 19
There are many ways to think about this.
A couple that spring to mind immediately:
1) In many countries there has been a long-standing norm of paying for access. In the UK and other places this is done by licensing the receiver. If you have two TVs you pay a fee on both of them (same with radios, etc). Tax the users so that content can be made that isn't so obviously controlled/affected by advertisers.

2) People learned to start paying for cable, they can certainly learn to start paying for content online.
Posted by NatL http://www.icantsaveyou.com on January 30, 2013 at 10:44 AM · Report this
20
Some people need to think even slightly more deeply about this.

This is what job creation looks like. There are opportunities arising for great new productions from creative types that could NEVER get a minute of some network/cable executive's time. And they'll be able to put food on the table by selling unique content for smaller (but still significant) niches.

I'd pay for a weekly 30 minute "Savage Love" talk show :)
Posted by I ditched comcast on January 30, 2013 at 10:53 AM · Report this
21
@19 People paid for cable because that was the only way to get those channels and shows, such as MTV, HBO, and Cinemax. If cable companies had first given away cable for a number of years and then started trying to charge a fee, you'd have a situation that is more similar to youtube.
Posted by David from Chicago on January 30, 2013 at 11:06 AM · Report this
Cascadian 22
I think a lot of people are conflating the viral videos that make up most of YouTube's content (which no one wants to pay for) and the professionally-produced stuff such as web series (which is worth paying for in many cases).

I would pay for quality content if the price was right. I'd pay as much as I pay to watch a TV series that is available online (though I prefer the Netflix model where I can stream when I want for a flat monthly fee.) I think this service is a lot like the original content in Netflix that is starting to be developed, such as the new Arrested Development.

My only concern with this model is that content will be siloed based on the service, with each service only distributing its own content or content from a narrow band of sources. So that to watch your favorite shows you have to subscribe to half a dozen services.

My guess is that in the future there will be ad-supported free crap to give people a taste of what's out there, a la carte per-show fees if you want to try something out without advertising or without subscribing to a service, and a handful of competing services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, etc.) that distribute roughly the same legacy/long-tail content but that differentiate based on exclusive content produced in-house. It's just going to be a long slog getting from the current mess to that long-term outcome.
Posted by Cascadian on January 30, 2013 at 11:45 AM · Report this
23
223 people ITT have only ever used YouTube for Gangnam Style and the occasional laughing baby or backflipping dog. GTFO
Posted by K on January 30, 2013 at 11:51 AM · Report this
24
I don't understand why they just can't keep the strategy of paying for movies and programs, and not individual channels themselves. I watch things you will never see on TV that can be seen on youtube, and having to pay for that hurts me. I just hope I can find series to buy on DVD before this takes place
Posted by Macannatarry on January 30, 2013 at 12:17 PM · Report this
25
Honestly I care nothing for quality; good content, yes, but not the kind they speak of. I just hope they limit the monthly fee to new channels for that specific purpose, and not for every single channel in existence. If i'm wrong, then I'll have nothing else to watch except for a few things on my computer and recorded episodes.
Posted by Macannatarry on January 30, 2013 at 12:24 PM · Report this
Dougsf 26
Fuck no. Even with their ever increasing bit rate upload options, their interface is dookie. It's Geocities compared to Vimeo—which I already do pay for, but for but for an entirely different reason compared to the model presented here.
Posted by Dougsf on January 30, 2013 at 12:37 PM · Report this
Sam Levine 27
People generally do what you pay them to do. And video generally takes more people than other art forms.

As long as the revenue model for Youtube is crap for more than a 1-2 person shop the best content will be essentially advertising for another product or service (see: DigitalRev TV, basically Top Gear but for cameras to sell cameras and camera equipment).
Posted by Sam Levine http://levinetech.net on January 30, 2013 at 12:39 PM · Report this
28
I do pay for Youtube (and slog) because I live in China. And, like most foreigners in China, I would rather pay for a VPN rather than limit myself to state-sanctioned internet. You don't know what you've got til it's gone.
Posted by Marbles on January 30, 2013 at 5:13 PM · Report this

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