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YouTube set to offer paid-for channels this spring, from $1 to $5 a month

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By Noel Young | Correspondent

January 29, 2013 | 3 min read

YouTube is preparing to launch paid subscriptions for individual channels on its video platform.

YouTube: would you pay to watch?

It's the latest attempt to lure "content producers, eyeballs, and advertiser dollars" away from traditional TV, the American magazine AdAge says today, citing multiple people familiar with the plans.

YouTube is said to have asked a small group of channel producers to submit applications to create channels that users would pay to access.

The first paid channels look like costing somewhere between $1 and $5 a month, said two of the insiders. YouTube is also considering charging for content libraries and access to live events, a la pay-per-view, as well as self-help or financial advice shows.

It's not clear which channels will be part of the first paid-subscription rollout, said AdAge.

YouTube may lean on media companies who have already shown the ability to develop large followings on the video platform, including networks like Machinima, Maker Studios and Fullscreen.

The paid channels could appear as early as the second quarter of this year. One suggestion: the channels could be introduced to the public at the Digital Content New Fronts in late April, where digital-media companies such as YouTube, AOL and Yahoo host advertisers for presentations announcing new online-video series.

YouTube has been talking about paid subscriptions for some time. A year ago, at AllThingsD media conference, YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar talked on stage about the potential to poach second- or third-tier cable networks that were having trouble building big enough audiences on cable TV .

"We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models," a Google spokesman said in a statement. "The important thing is that, regardless of the model, our creators succeed on the platform. There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we're looking at that."

YouTube is treating paid subscriptions as an experiment, much like video rentals in 2010. The initial number of channels will be small, likely about 25 . Revenue split from subs? Expected to be similar to the 45-55 split common for ads on YouTube. Partners will also have the option to include ads in their pay channels, said AdAge, but its unclear what form those will take.

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