YouTube's reported plans to let some of its channel partners sell monthly video subscriptions could be put in place within weeks, according to the Financial Times.
Earlier this year, Advertising Age reported that the Google-owned (Nasdaq: GOOG) site was exploring a way to let some of its content partners sell subscriptions through the site. Now, YouTube is expected to begin facilitating as many as 50 subscription channels that will cost at least $2 each per month, the Financial Times reported, citing a person familiar with the plan.
The plan was not unveiled at last week's Digital Content NewFronts in New York--the beginning of the online video ad buying season--as some had expected it to be. YouTube told Bloomberg Monday that it is "looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube."
The development comes days after Sanford Bernstein analyst Carlos Kirjner wrote that the odds were "extremely high" that YouTube will be a large, profitable media business along the lines of CBS (NYSE: CBS) or Viacom within years. "It is becoming an attractive and important medium for brand advertisers and we think it will increasingly compete for the incremental video-delivered brand advertising dollars," Kirjner wrote in a weekly note to investors, adding that YouTube could exceed $15 billion in annual sales "in the next several years."
Google's video sites drew an estimated 153.9 million unique viewers in March, according to data compiled by comScore last month. Among YouTube's Partner Channels, which are seen as the most likely candidates for offering paid subscription services, Vevo reached about 50.7 million unique viewers during the month. Fullscreen followed with 40.1 million; Maker Studios had about 33 million and Warner Music 32.5 million.
YouTube toying with subscription model
Milestones: YouTube hits 1 billion viewers