Google might be trying to do whatever it can to keep YouTube in its top spot as a video sharing platform, along with making it profitable. The word right now is that Google is tossing around creating a subscription model to YouTube that would let content watchers pay to skip the ads that show up during a video.
This would be a huge change for YouTube, as the company essentially revolves around advertising, in every possible way, in order to make their money. CEO of YouTube, Susan Wojcicki spoke at a ReCode-sponsored event, saying that,
YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users; but there's going to be a point where people don't want to see the ads.
She's probably right. On videos that are less than two minutes long, I still occasionally get stuck with a one minute ad. I can't be the only one in that boat. The head of YouTube also went on to say that the goal is to be "thinking about how to give users options." A subscription service to skip ads would certainly be an option.
This isn't the first time a paid version of YouTube has been talked about, however. When Hulu first became a big deal, the rumor was that YouTube was panicking and might implement a similar subscription service, sans ads and with exclusive content. That could still be the play here. Still, there's no word on price, availability or even if it will actually be a thing. All we know right now is the execs at the popular video site are thinking about it. Thinking is better than not thinking, right?
All things considered, this is still a big step for Google, a company which almost all of its consumer-facing products are free and are driven by advertising. Yes, you must pay for Google Apps for Business and content creators on YouTube can charge their subscribers a small fee to get special access to more videos, but that's a select market in each of those regards. Offering up a monthly subscription for all YouTube customers would certainly shake things up and change the type of person who may visit YouTube. But with sites like Twitch and Vimeo making a drastic impact as of late, this might be the move to make. It should be noted that Vimeo has been letting content creators rent or sell videos on the site for the past 18 months, and has already announced it is launching an ad-free subscription service sometime early next year.