YouTube, the world's No. 1 video website, is expected to start asking users to pay subscription fees to access some of its content starting in the spring.
The decision is being viewed as an aggressive move by the Google-owned website to compete directly with traditional TV for advertisers and viewers.
The first such channels could be available at Easter and YouTube is expected to charge between $1 and $5 a month.
The world's No. 1 video website is expected to start asking users to pay subscription fees to access some of its content starting in the spring
The company has held talks with several video producers, asking them to submit applications to create for-pay specialist channels, according to AdAge.
In addition to episodic content, 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.
YouTube, has been moving to add professional-grade video programs to the vast archive of amateur, home-shot videos that have made the site so popular.
YouTube has hinted in the past that it was considering offering subscription-based paid content.
At a media conference last year, YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar talked about the potential to poach second- or third-tier cable networks that were having trouble building big enough audiences on cable TV to command subscription fees from distributors.
YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar has talked about the website's potential to provide second- or third-tier cable networks with a more direct channel to their passionate viewers
Internet distribution, the thinking goes, would give some of these networks a more direct line to their passionate base with lower costs.
'If we have a subscription model,' said Kamangar, 'then absolutely that's something that becomes possible.'
'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 when it began in 2010. The initial group of channels will be small, estimated at about 25 at the outset.
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