Trying to find a way to keep YouTube stars happily generating profits, YouTube may allow viewers to skip ads altogether by offering an ad-free subscription service. Some believe it will tie into a forthcoming music subscription service.
The ad-free option, cited as a response to a question about "over the top" subscription services during the Recode conference in Silicon Valley by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, would pit Google's video site against those dominated by TV subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
"YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is really great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users and anyone can access the content -- but there are going to be cases where people are going to say 'I don’t want to see the ads, or I want to have a different experience'," Wojcicki said.
The plan sounds similar to -- and could become an extension of -- Google's forthcoming music subscription service. Wojcicki said YouTube is working to put together an unnamed music subscription service, but did not offer a timeline. The biggest obstacle remains how to give consumers options. The service is rumored to include ways to search for and view bonus tracks, concert footage and behind-the-scenes content.
YouTube has never offered a paid-subscription option excluding ads. Last year, YouTube began offering content providers the option to charge a fee to watch their content by creating a paid channel or convert an existing free to a paid channel. Paid channels are not currently available to all content partners. Channel owners must own a free channel with at least 1,000 subscribers and reside in one of the supported locales before being considered.
To support content for YouTube stars, the company has built content studios in Los Angeles, New York, and Sao Paulo.