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YouTube Subscription Fees Seem Imminent

Nothing on the Internet stays free forever, and YouTube is no exception. At present, the video-hosting site makes money through ads and selling licensed content. That is likely to continue, but a third revenue stream is likely just around the corner: a Netflix-style subscription fee that will give users access to two discrete YouTube services.

Information comes from tech news site Re/code, which cites sources close to YouTube. While the subscription service has no release date yet (it was initially supposed to launch over the summer), it will likely cost $10 and give users access to both an unlimited music service and a way to watch videos ad-free.

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In theory, the service could show up around the end of October. YouTube recently e-mailed content producers and instructed them to agree to new terms of service by Oct. 22, lest their videos be barred from public display and monetization. The letter goes on to describe an "ads-free experience" supported by a monthly subscription fee, although it does not specify when the service will launch or how much it will cost.

Re/code's sources posit that the service will cost $10 per month, and include access to both YouTube's music service as well as its ads-free videos. When questioned, YouTube representatives neither confirmed nor denied an upcoming subscription fee, but did say that the company "[planned] to provide fans more options in how they enjoy content on YouTube."

One important thing to note is that a subscription fee on YouTube will almost certainly be optional, and users who want to watch free, ad-subsidized videos will likely be able to continue doing so. However, if YouTube is about to launch a paid music service, it may become much more assiduous about removing copyrighted music on unofficial accounts. This would, in theory, funnel more users toward a paid service.