YouTube could launch a paid-for service as early as late October, according to industry insiders.
Having spent the first ten years as a free service, the Google-owned company looks like it is finally putting plans for a long-expected subscription service into operation.
YouTube has written to content owners advising them that they must agree to new terms and conditions by 22nd October or else “videos will no longer be available for public display or monetisation in the United States.”
Although the company has never committed to a timeline for the introduction of charging, the idea of a new subscription service was discussed nearly a year ago.
The email that YouTube sent to content owners regarding the changes to licensing terms began: “For years, YouTube’s fans have been telling us they want more – more choice when watching their favourite content, more ways to support their favourite creators and, above all, the option to watch their favourite videos uninterrupted.
“To give fans more choice we will be launching a new ads-free version of YouTube, available to fans for a monthly fee. This service will create a new source of revenue over time that supplements your advertising revenue. That’s why an overwhelming majority of our partners – representing over 95% of YouTube watchtime – have asked for and signed up for this service.”
The email went on to explain that the same content will still be available to end-users under the current ads-supported system of delivery.
To accept the new conditions and make content available for the paid-for service, content owners simply need to log into YouTube.com by 22nd October from a desktop or laptop and follow the prompts.
YouTube’s email has the carrot of added revenue but also carries the stick of loss of access for content owners.
“If you haven’t signed by that date, your videos will no longer be available for public display or monetisation in the United States. That outcome would be a loss for YouTube, a loss for the thriving presence you’ve built on the platform, and above all, a loss for your fans. We remain committed to working with you, as we always have. And of course, at any time, you can accept the updated terms which will make your videos public and monetisable again.”