Google is pushing ahead with its plans to launch a paid YouTube service by the end of this year. So far, it’s signed up YouTube partners accounting for more than 90% of it views, but major TV networks are still holding out. Fox, NBC and CBS (among others) are still holding back according to Bloomberg’s sources.
Without support from TV networks, YouTube will have to attract paying subscribers with its own original content, or try and attract payers with nothing more than its home-grown stars and music videos. But that doesn’t mean the company is down-beat. There are many more options on its plate.
“We are progressing according to plan,” YouTube said. “We have support from the overwhelming majority of our partners, with well over 90 percent of YouTube watchtime covered by agreements, and more in the pipeline about to close.”
It’s not surprising that partners have signed up. According to YouTube’s terms, partners can’t make their videos public or monetize them unless they agree to be part of the new paid service. They’re free to upload their videos and keep them private, but if they want to make money, they have to be part of the paid offerings too. For those who make a living from YT monetization, it’s a no-brainer. Under this new system, they could be set to make more than they do now.
As for those TV networks holding out, they do still have time to sign up. The challenge here is that most of them have signed deals with the likes of Netflix and Amazon for their television series. To many networks, YouTube has historically just been a way to promote shows using short clips from individual episodes, rather than entire series. If YT wants them signed up, there’s a mindset change that needs to take place first.
On the flip-side, statistics suggest that this isn’t necessarily a big problem for YouTube. Only two network shows feature among YouTube’s 50 most watched. Music videos are a far bigger draw to YT than any network shows, and the company will continue to show official music videos as part of its paid and ad-based services.
With all that said, YouTube is rumored to be working on its own original content. The company has over a dozen original series in the works, ready to go live next year with budgets up to $5 million each. Many of these original shows will only be available to paying subscribers, just like Netflix and Amazon.