Bit Rate

YouTube About to Find Out If A La Carte Works

1/30/2013 6:04 AM

YouTube is aiming to co-opt the dual revenue stream of cable TV, hoping to launch paid access to two dozen or so "channels" for somewhere between $1 and $5 per month as soon as Q2 of this year, AdAge reported.

No surprise there: The company's execs have already spoken about their interest in enabling this, on multiple occasions. The Google-owned property also has been considering offering paid access to live events.

The real surprise? That YouTube -- which has spent years teaching people that video on the Internet is free -- seems to think it can make any kind of real money here.

The devil is in the details, of course: What's actually going to be available and how much will it cost? I'd be astounded if YouTube were able to acquire a substantial number of paying customers by offering a la carte access to any of its current lineup of original channels.

Maybe there's something else those guys have up their sleeves, but I can't see anybody paying a buck or two per month for the stuff you can get on, say, The Comedy Shaq Network, The Pet Collective or even The Spangler Effect (no relation! And no offense, Steve). I like The Onion, but will anyone pay to watch kinda-sorta-funny parodies like America's sexiest hula-hooper?

Consider that Netflix and Hulu Plus cost $8 per month, for a huge amount of name-brand TV and movie content. Will eight bucks get you as much entertainment bang for your buck on YouTube?

I guess the economics of a YouTube channel could, in theory, work with just 10,000 or 20,000 paying monthly subs -- but you need a fanatical fan base (think Glenn Beck). And guys, you ain't gonna get Game of Thrones or Homeland for that kind of scratch.

Follow me on Twitter: @xpangler

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