YouTube mulls paid film and TV service
Wednesday, December 16 2009,
YouTube could soon start supporting subscription or pay-per-view options to access TV shows and films on the website, it has emerged.
Channel 4 and Five recently made their TV catch-up platforms available without charge on the Google-owned video streaming site, with both broadcasters drawing revenue from the service by selling advertising.
However, Google media partnerships manager David Eun told Reuters that paid subscription services could be an option in the future, as long as broadcasters and Hollywood studios can be persuaded to get involved.
"We're making some interesting bets on long-form content; not all content is accessible to us with the advertising model," he said.
Google is keen to increase the amount of long-form content on YouTube to run in addition to the short clips for which the site is best known.
However, Hollywood studios and some TV broadcasters have proved reluctant to jeopardise their revenue streams from DVD sales and other sources by making content available for free on the site.
In response, Google will look at a range of monthly subscription models for long-form content on YouTube, along with individual pay-per-view alternatives, such as used on Apple's iTunes.
YouTube's around 125 million monthly users help it to dominate the US internet market, but the site has struggled to convert the traffic into profitable revenue streams. Credit Suisse analyst Spencer Wang recently told The Guardian that the firm could post losses of up to $470m (£288m) by the end of 2009.
As Google is keen to explore every way to monetise activity on the site, online video charging seems an attractive option. However, Eun stressed that advertising still represents YouTube's biggest earning opportunity.
"If we just continued to focus on our advertising model that would be enough opportunity to create meaningful revenue," he said. "The biggest opportunity today is advertising and we've just begun to scratch the surface."
YouTube also faces an increasingly competitive market for long-form online video, including the ongoing success of of joint venture Hulu in the US and solid offerings from BlinkBox, MSN Video Player and other providers in the UK.