YouTube is moving forward with its upcoming paid subscription service. The Google-owned online video site recently sent an email to creators asking them to accept an updated YouTube partner agreement by October 22, 2015 in order to be included in the program. If creators don’t agree to the new agreement, they risk losing the ability to monetize their videos within the United States.
YouTube’s latest email again confirms the site will launch an ad-free viewing experience in the near future, possibly before the end of the year. YouTube claims it’s implementing the alternative way to consume content on its platform because that’s what fans have been asking for. The letter explains online video viewers have told YouTube for some time they want an “option to watch their favorite videos uninterrupted.” That may be accurate, but the timing of YouTube’s initial announcement of the new viewing experience could also lead individuals to believe the Google-owned online video site is also responding to new subscription players in the market. Jason Kilar’s Vessel is a relatively new addition to the online video fray, charging viewers a modest $2.99 monthly fee for early access to programming from some top-name creators. And Fullscreen just officially announced its own subscription service, set to launch in the not-so-distant future, too.
YouTube states the ad-free viewing option will “create a new source of revenue over time” to supplement content creators’ current revenue generated from TrueView, pre-roll, display, and other advertising mechanisms currently available on YouTube (which have all seen a very sharp increase in their value over the past couple of years). If that’s true, it should appease creators who were reluctant to sign up for the paid tier program for fear of missing out on ad revenue.
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However, YouTube’s email and corresponding FAQ page also made it clear creators who don’t join the subscription service will lose monetization capabilities on their videos within the United States. YouTube writes creators who “need more time to review and accept these [updated partner agreement] terms” won’t be able to run ads on their videos. These creators can choose to re-enable monetization in their account settings, but it’s unclear if this action will require their compliance with the updated terms or if it will allow creators to keep monetizing their videos on the free version of YouTube.
Here’s the email creators received from YouTube about the new partner agreement for their individual channels:
Dear YouTube Channel,
For years, YouTube’s fans have been telling us they want more—more choice when watching their favorite content, more ways to support their favorite creators and, above all, the option to watch their favorite videos uninterrupted.
To give fans more choice we will be launching a new ads-free version of YouTube, available to fans for a monthly fee. This service will create a new source of revenue over time that supplements your advertising revenue. That’s why an overwhelming majority of our partners — representing over 95% of YouTube watchtime — have asked for and signed up for this service.
As you heard in our previous emails, we want to ensure that fans who choose to pay for an ads-free experience can watch all the same videos that are available on the ads-supported experience. That’s why we’re asking you to update your agreement to reflect the updated terms for the ads-free service.
To accept, simply log into YouTube.com from a desktop or laptop and follow the prompts by October 22nd.
If you haven’t signed by that date, your videos will no longer be available for monetization in the United States. Of course, at any time, you can decide to re-enable monetization by navigating to your Account Features page. Common FAQs can be found here.
We believe these new terms will greatly strengthen our partnership for the future. We went through a similar process three years ago when we began distributing and monetizing your content on mobile devices. Today, mobile represents over half of all watchtime and mobile revenue is up 2x in just the last year. Just as with mobile, we’re confident this latest update will excite your fans and generate a previously untapped, additional source of revenue for you.
If you have questions or encounter technical difficulties, we’re here to help: reach out to us for support here.
The YouTube Team
No pricing has been announced for the ad-free, paid YouTube subscription service as of yet. YouTube is still working on lining up as many channels and content partners as possible, so fans can choose to watch the same content with or without ads. In July 2015, Google’s online video platform originally had about 90% of its creators signed up with the subscription service. YouTube now claims a massive portion of creators, who account for 95% of watch time on the site, are on board.