There's a website called AdAge.com. I didn't know that. SourceFed's latest video, YouTube To Unveil Paid Subscriptions?!, is about the rumor that YouTube may, soon, be offering paid subscriptions. Link to the video. Embedded below.
This sounds like an awesome step up past the sponsored channels that YouTube has been funding this past year. I love Crash Course and SciShow, and I don't mind Felicia Day's channel so much that it makes me want to unsubscribe. Of course, I don't want those channels to jump up to a pay model -- especially with Crash Course and SciShow, that would kind of defeat the purpose. But they do make a great proof of concept that YouTube creators can generate consistent, high-quality content that's worth a greater investment than just "You have access to our upload page."
Imagine if Tor had a YouTube channel, that financed quality adaptations of sci fi and fantasy books, the way HBO is doing for Game of Thrones. Imagine if getting enough subscribers and jumping over to YouTube had been an option for Joss Whedon when Firefly got cancelled.
It's not clear which channels will be part of the first paid-subscription rollout, but it is believed that YouTube will lean on the media companies that have already shown the ability to develop large followings on the video platform, including networks like Machinima, Maker Studios and Fullscreen. YouTube is also looking outside its current roster of partners for candidates.
I don't think it would go over very well with fans if old channels threw up a paywall for all their new content. But I think those channels could expand into higher quality, higher production-value work, that would go up on a new channel, and I think external producers of higher-level content might be able to step down on the payscale the way groups like Machinima would be stepping up -- like, imagine if Pixar had a channel, that just produced those shorts from the start of their movies?
This is a great example of the kinds of things that the internet and companies like Google are doing, not just to open up new opportunities for existing art to thrive, but to create new levels at which art can be successful, unpinned from the constraints of pre-existing time slots or demand based on which advertisers were willing to pay.