Paid channels on YouTube: For better or for worse?
When this video-hosting service kicked off in 2005, it gave users a platform for sharing video content and reaching a much wider audience. Since then, Google has worked hard and fast for it to be more profitable by monetizing it through advertisements as well as facilitating big media companies to distribute their content. And now comes the next phase as YouTube recently introduced paid channels.
Commercialism in Overdrive
The first batch of paid channels on YouTube has its own unique target audiences and contains professionally made specialized content — in fact, I can see the notion behind monetizing it. It also needs to be kept in mind that this is a pilot run and the kind of response it garners in what dictates future plans of expansion or scrapping. But this is not what YouTube was supposed to be about. The influx of media production and distribution companies started and before we knew it, each video that we watched came along with a paid advertisement. The truth is that we end up watching more commercials than videos on YouTube these days.
Gain and Loss
The gain here is obviously for YouTube and content creators because they get to keep more than 50% from the subscription sales revenue. Moreover, companies believe that a user might not mind shelling on the subscription fees for niche content. The question is: where does this leave the average casual user? Would one would be willing to pay for the channels he/she is accustomed to watching for free? By my reckoning it is highly unlikely. Looking at it from my own perspective, as much as I like certain channels and keep a tab on new uploads from them, I would simply have to pass on watching them if I am going to incur a collective hit of $20-25 every month.
Heading in the Wrong Direction
YouTube has already received a lot of negative feedback because of the paid ads, and its newest addition to monetize doesn’t seem to have anything going in its favor. And if this initiative does succeed, then the essence of “YouTube” will be lost in the process, making it similar to a Pandora or Netflix. In other words, it would be more of a PaidTube rather than a YouTube.