YouTube to start charging for content?

Google takes a leaf from Rupert Murdoch's book

IT’S REALLY SAD that it has come to this, but YouTube is considering charging for certain content. It appears that Google isn’t happy with the way things are going with its purchase, as despite being the most popular video site on the interweb, YouTube isn’t making Google any money. In fact, YouTube is losing money, a lot of money and Google has started to look at other ways of getting content onto its video site.

According to the Guardian, one of many options is to start charging for premium content. YouTube is looking at a couple of different business models and the main options seem to be a subscription based service or pay per view. The question is if people will be willing to pay for this premium content, as most of it will be TV shows and movies. YouTube might be the biggest video site on the Internet, but that’s for a reason – it’s made up of mostly user created content that is freely shared. Change this and Google will change YouTube into something different.

It’s not hard to see why Google is considering going down this route, as the Google ads on YouTube aren’t going to make anyone rich, not even Google considering the cost of bandwidth. Google is also having problems getting premium content onto YouTube at the moment for exactly that reason, although the company has managed to make deals with Channel 4 and Channel Five in the UK that allow full length content to be shown on YouTube.

However, these are fairly minor players and with Rupert Murdoch’s outburst earlier this year and his move towards charged for online content, the Internet as we know it might be in for a rough change. This seems unlikely though, for at least as long as there are content providers that are willing to provide content in exchange for advertising money, we’ll continue to have free content online. It’s also doubtful that there would be any changes to YouTube’s user submitted content, as that would be plain suicide for YouTube.

Google is going to have to sit down and figure out what its next step is going to be. If people are going to be willing to pay for content it not only needs to offer content that is appealing, but also at the right price point. Other issues that need to be looked into include how to deal with content intended for only a specific market, which is often the case with online video content. Not only that, but copyright infringement is likely to be another problem, as it’s not too difficult to rip streaming video content these days.

All in all it looks like Google and YouTube have a lot of things to work through, but if done right, this could be the first truly global video streaming service. If done wrong, then it’s likely that YouTube will find itself with a lot fewer viewers than it has today.S|A

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