Google's YouTube Looking at $1.99 Monthly Fees for Some Premium Video Content

Google is eyeing the move to expand its YouTube content and broaden its revenue, according to a report.

Google's YouTube video sharing unit is putting the finishing touches on plans to create new subscriptions for some YouTube premium content that would charge users $1.99 a month to view the videos.

The affected content would include about 50 popular specialized YouTube channels, and would help the company bring in a new revenue stream, according to a May 5 report by The Financial Times. The $1.99 fee would be charged monthly for each of the channels that a subscriber wants to view.

"The move, which has been in the works for months, could be announced as early as this week," the story reported. "The subscription service will enable channel operators to produce different content, such as TV shows and films, a person familiar with the plan said."

A YouTube spokesperson did not immediately respond to an eWEEK request for comment on the proposed fees.

The Financial Times reported that YouTube stated it had "'nothing to announce' regarding channel subscriptions but was 'looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer.'"

There are a wide range of corporate YouTube channel partners that provide content for the video viewing service, including Howcast, Vevo, Maker Studios, Fullscreen, World Wrestling Entertainment, The Onion and the Machinima gaming and entertainment network.

No additional details are available about which premium content partners would involve the subscription fees.

"Subscription YouTube channels will compete with the likes of Netflix, the streaming service with more than 30m subscribers, and Hulu, owned by Walt Disney, News Corp and Comcast, which said last week it had surpassed 4 million" subscribers, The Financial Times reported.

In March, YouTube announced that it has grown to providing video content for more than 1 billion viewers per month. The popular video sharing site has helped launch the careers of a slew of entertainers and made celebrities out of ordinary citizens, thanks to viral videos.

YouTube's growth can be attributed to the changing content consumption habits of a new generation of people who have grown up watching content on their own terms. This generation is defined by the Internet, mobile technology and social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Nielsen calls this group Generation C because they are not just defined by their age group, but by their connected behavior. To better understand how Gen C connects with YouTube across screens, the company worked with Nielsen to take a look at viewing patterns on smartphones, finding that the amount of time Gen C spends watching YouTube on their smartphones is up 74 percent from last year.

In fact, in 2012, the number of Gen C viewers who regularly watched YouTube on smartphones caught up to the number of viewers tuning in on their PCs. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of Gen C watch YouTube on two devices or more, according to Nielsen, compared with 53 percent of the general population.

On smartphones, most Gen C viewers engage with YouTube as a destination by actively searching for videos on YouTube (47 percent). Viewers are also discovering videos socially, with 9 percent of respondents saying they watched a video on their smartphone because it was shared by friends in an email, while 18 percent watched a video because it was shared on a social network.

Last November, YouTube expanded its automatic video captioning by adding support for six additional languages so that the content would be more accessible to the hearing-impaired or those who speak different languages. YouTube added support for German, Italian, French, Portuguese, Russian and Dutch to the automatic-captioning services that debuted in 2009. The captioning service began in 2009 with English and then added Japanese, Korean and Spanish.