As has long been rumored, Youtube began rolling out subscription-based channels this week and it may have you worried about the future of Youtube.
So far, only big companies like Acorn.TV and BIGCAR Movies have opted in for this subscription model because they seem to be aiming at working like a tranditional cable channel and growing a viable business online. These subscriptions will charge fans a monthly fee of $.99+ for their content. Independent creators such as Philip DeFranco and the Vlogbrothers have calmed their viewers by assuring them that their channels will always be free.
The independent channels have little to gain from a subscription plan because it would alienate some of their existing viewers, as well as keep future viewers from finding them. Ad Revenue, as well as money from products (DeFranco has For Human Peoples and the Vlogbrothers have DFTBA Records as a way of selling merchandise), serves them well with the ability to grow their fanbase and make more money because they are wildly available. A bigger audience means more ad revenue and more fans buying your stuff.
I think there are a group of people that would opt to pay for the channels they watch, rather than a cable package, when it comes to services like Time Warner or AT&T. This subscription model on youtube kind of shows the groundwork being laid for this kind of option in the future. If this idea shows some level of success, networks or shows could try to make something like this work, allowing fans to pay for only the things they watch. That's a huge leap to make and if we ever see something like that I feel that it would be very far into the future (especially because of things like Hulu, making it possible to watch most shows either for free or for a few bucks a month). But it is an interesting development to see from one of the largest websites online. While everyone's talking about what this means for content creators and subscribers, I think the interesting discussion will come once we see if this plan succeeds or fails.
For everyone worried about what this means for your favorite channels, stop worrying so much. This subscription plan will only effect you if you choose to opt in and pay for channels like Recipe.tv and SmartTV.com. Your favorite existing-channels like Sxephil or the Vlogbrothers or Ze Frank or Hannah Hart or Grace Helbig or Charles Trippy will stay the same because independent creators aren't crazy enough to cut off some of their existing fanbase. This subscription model is just the next step for Youtube in taking over the world but if you don't let it, it could have exactly zero effect on your life.