The New York Post is reporting that Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) YouTube is talking with content providers about possibly adding a tier to the popular website that would put premium content behind a pay-wall.
The paper said YouTube would retain its free site, including its efforts to create at least 100 channels of alternative professional content, but would add a more content-owner friendly option that could increase the amount of programming from major Hollywood available.
The plan first surfaced at a conference in January where YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar discussed a subscription service that could augment the free site, a la Hulu and Hulu Plus.
"We're a media platform and we want to [have] a business model that media partners demand," he said.
Although Google no longer breaks out details about its YouTube division, it's estimated the company sees revenues of between $2 billion and $3 billion from the properties approximately 800 million worldwide viewers.
The potential of a serious play backed by a subscription tier could not only provide a significant bump to Google's bottom line, but also open Hollywood's gates to a company that has struggled to gain traction with studios.
Last month, YouTube took part in presentations to advertisers that highlighted more of its original programming, including programs and features build around the U.S. Olympic team and a new show aimed primarily at women viewers.
Google TV, which features YouTube prominently, also is getting a boost this month when it rolls out with LGs latest TV models. An executive with the South Korean firm said its new TVs with Google TV would hit the U.S. market the week of May 21.
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