YouTube, which spent the first 10 years of its life as a free service, is getting ready to start selling tickets.
Google’s video site appears to be finalizing launch plans for its long-in-the-making subscription service, and industry sources say they’ve been told to expect a launch near the end of October.
A blast email from YouTube to content owners who share ad revenue with the site, telling them they have to agree to new terms by Oct. 22 or their “videos will no longer be available for public display or monetization in the United States,” helps support that timeline. But YouTube, which floated the idea of a new subscription service nearly a year ago, has never publicly committed to a timeline. Last spring, YouTube executives were telling content owners they were aiming for a mid-summer launch. It’s possible the launch could keep slipping, even beyond 2015.
Note that we’re referring to a single service, not multiple ones. Sources say that’s because YouTube intends to bundle two different services into one offering: An update of its music service, which it launched in beta as YouTube Music Key last fall, and another service, yet to launch, that will give users the ability to watch anything on YouTube without seeing ads.
Video industry sources say Google has told them it intends to charge $10 a month for the combined offering. It’s hard to imagine how YouTube will make money at that pricing, since its music service was supposed to cost $10 on its own, with the music labels and other copyright owners pocketing the majority of that.
A YouTube rep declined to comment beyond an amended version of a statement the company has offered in the past: “We are progressing according to plan to provide fans more options in how they enjoy content on YouTube. We have support from the overwhelming majority of our partners, with over 95 percent of YouTube watch-time covered by agreements, and more in the pipeline about to close.” In July, when the company offered up a similar statement, it said it had signed up content owners that represented more than 90 percent of YouTube viewing.
Here’s the text of the email YouTube sent content owners asking them to agree to new license terms: