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YouTube To Unleash Subscription Channels: Report

Could Launch up to 50 Individual Channels for as Little as $1.99 Per Month Apiece 5/06/2013 6:34 AM Eastern

Google’s YouTube division is close to launching as many as 50 subscription-based streaming video channels, with some running for as little as $1.99 per month each, The Financial Times reported.

YouTube was not immediately available for comment on the long-rumored plan, but the paper said YouTube could announce its over-the-top à la carte subscription service as early as this week, and come forth with a revised model that will enable it to complement its current, ad-supported model with a fresh revenue stream.  The resulting service will also let channel operators produce a range of content, including TV shows and movies, the Financial Times added, citing a person familiar with the plan.

YouTube could generate $15 billion or more in annual revenue over the next five years, putting it in the same league as CBS or Viacom, Sanford Bernstein analyst Carlos Kirjner proclaimed in a research note issued last week.  YouTube, he noted, “is becoming an attractive and important medium for brand advertisers," putting it in position to fight “for the incremental video-delivered brand advertising dollars.”

YouTube is already a key player in online video advertising, a category poised to post $3 billion in 2013, marking a 32% year-to-year growth spurt, according to according to Pivotal Research Group.

Google sites, driven primarily by YouTube, kept its ranking as the top online video content property in March 2013, accounting for 153.9 million unique viewers, followed by Facebook (63.8 million), Vevo (52 million), Yahoo-operated sites (50.3 million) and Viacom Digital (43.8 million), according to comScore. Of the 39 billion video content views occurring in March, the Google sites accounted for 12.8 billion. Google sites also accounted for 2.3 billion of the 13.2 billion video ads served up online during the month of March.