YouTube is close to launching paid subscriptions to as many as 50 channels on the video-sharing site, according to the Financial Times.
Viewers will be able to subscribe to each channel for as little as $1.99 per month, with an announcement of the launch expected as early as this week. An anonymous source with knowledge of the plan told the Financial Times that it should enable channel operators to produce different content, such as TV shows and films.
According to the Financial Times, YouTube spent more than $20 million on advances for dozens of start-up channels. This suggests that the Google-owned site is shifting its focus from being a platform for user-generated content, to one hosting more professionally produced videos.
YouTube currently generates revenues through ads placed on its videos and channels. Brian Wieser at Pivotal Research told the Financial Times that YouTube’s advertisement revenues will rise to $2 billion this year, up from $1.3bn last year.
The numbers are estimated to continue rising, and YouTube’s revenue could exceed $15bn “in the next several years,” Bernstein Research told the newspaper last Friday.
Current YouTube channel partners include Howcast, World Wrestling Entertainment, and The Onion.