YouTube Considering Paid, Ad-Free Subscription Service

Sometimes you have to wait a dreaded 30 seconds before you can watch a video on YouTube while an ad for something you don't care about gets its screen time. Soon, you may be able to bypass this all together - for a price. At yesterday's Recode Mobile conference, newly appointed head of YouTube Susan Wojcicki explained that the company is experimenting with a paid subscription model of the online video service that would allow users to access it without ads.

While Wojcicki did not go into details, she explained that she's considering different types of subscription options to give YouTube users more ways to interact with the service. “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,” Wojcicki said at Recode Mobile. "We’re thinking about how to give users options.”

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YouTube has already quietly toyed with subscriptions - in 2013, the company let content creators sell subscriptions to their work, but has done little to promote the option. It's unclear how a subscription model for ad-free content would affect YouTube's revenue, especially since it's estimated that YouTube received nearly $5.60 billion in gross ad revenue this year alone.

The idea of a YouTube subscription model could elevate the site's content - and that's what YouTube wants. The company has been pouring more money into its partner program and content creators recently, as stars like PewDiePie, Bethany Mota and Shane Dawson become more well-known. Allowing users to access that content without ads further legitimizes the service, the content creators and the content itself even more in the world of online video - and among competition like Netflix and Hulu.

There's no word on when we could see a YouTube subscription model - or YouTube's mysterious music service that has been rumored for quite some time - but Wojcicki made it sound like subscriptions would arrive sooner rather than later.

Valentina Palladino

Valentina is Commerce Editor at Engadget and has covered consumer electronics for a number of publications including Tom's Guide, Wired, Laptop Mag and Ars Technica, with a particular focus on wearables, PCs and other mobile tech. 

  • HomeSkillenSlice
    The more YouTube talks about adding a subscription model to their service the more compelled I feel to want to try AD Block and see how just much of my time in my daily life is saved by using it. I am quite literally getting bombarded with ads every 2nd or 3rd video. Even quick ads that can be skipped can still in the end waste around 10 mins of your time throughout the day as you watch videos, especially if you watch a lot.

    I'd even go so far as to say that around 10-20 mins of my time is spent either pressing the skip button or watching the full 30 seconds that the ad may be. Its ridiculous.

    So far Google has seemed to support their "don't act stupid or be evil" mantra but don't take it to far Google. Find better ways to advertise.
  • firefoxx04
    Ill pay as long as I do not have to sit through one more 30 second (no optional skip) Call of Duty Advanced whatever one more time. The game looks terrible and it has ads on pretty much any gaming oriented channel and usually shows twice in a 30min video.
  • ammaross
    @firefoxx04, Agreed. I'll have to shoot myself the next time that hearing implant commercial plays....
  • brandonjclark
    Darn ads! How dare they waste my time while I'm trying to waste my time watching REAL VIDEOZ!
  • Paul NZ
    What ads. I just use adblock. I dont see any ads

  • Xyos
    Building in the method to DIRECTLY SUPPORT individual youtubers via subs is what I want to see. If I am subbed to Totalbiscuit, dont want his ads but want to support him, I should be able to pay a low 2-5 dollar per month sub fee that goes directly to his channel.
  • applegetsmelaid
    Hmmm. I have few extra bucks in my pocket every month. Should I, A) Donate the money to a humanitarian cause, or should I, B) give the money to Google so I don't have to deal with the anguish of advertisements when I watch Minecraft videos and fail compilations..... God help us all.
  • Vince Rafferty
    how bout getting 1440p options on android again youtube ........
  • f-14
    adblocker works wonders.
    google can stick their evil paid to not play plan up this arse, which is incidentally the same place where their idea to put ads on youtube came from in the first place. pay me to watch ads, it's my time being wasted.
  • jakjawagon
    there’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads
    Long past that point. Banner ads etc. around the video I could put up with. Ads that play before or during the video, nope. Similar with text ads that show up over the top of the video. Adblock ftw.