YouTube is readying a tool for news publishers that would allow them to naively vend subscriptions to their own (off-YouTube) subscription services, including access to online newspapers or exclusive digital video content.

Digiday reports that the video giant has been in talks with publishers about the tool since 2019, but told prospective partners as recently as April that it plans to start testing the product by year’s end. Parties are still ironing out details, including YouTube’s cut of each subscription purchase, as well as what data about subscribers YouTube will share with publishers.

The tool could also comprise new YouTube channels containing content that is only available to paying subscribers — regardless of where the subscription was derived.

The tool would be part of the Google News Initiative, a program formed in 2018 “to help journalism thrive in the digital age.” It would also mark yet another revenue stream for news publishers, whose advertising revenues on YouTube have sunk in recent years, due to marketers’ concerns about running ads against controversial content. In March, Digiday reports, news publishers saw their CPMs — or the rate that advertisers pay per 1,000 views of an ad — drop 20%.

To this end, Digiday notes that publishers have been asking YouTube for other monetization products, including payment to license their videos, as well as a higher ad revenue split.

The news subscription venture would be roughly similar to YouTube’s Channel Memberships product, Digiday notes, which enables subscribers of a channel to pay a monthly fee for additional content or other perks. Google also launched a Subscribe With Google tool in April 2018 that facilitates outside subscriptions through users’ Google accounts, which is also being harnessed to develop the news offering, Digiday reports.

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