Ant Pruitt: Why I Won’t Pay for YouTube Content … Yet

YouTube will launch paid subscription channels in the spring of 2013. Ant Pruitt of isn’t signing up. Not yet, anyway. Here’s why. — YouTube has announced a spring season to be sprinkled with paid subscription channels. YouTube is making an attempt to lure large studios and other advertisers to its service. Currently the big dollars are on regular television and cable, where there are established ad models and production values are higher across the board.

It’s a bold step for YouTube. What are the ramifications? Larger than you might think.

Google YouTube reps feel this will bring larger studios, higher quality content and, hence, more advertisers and eye balls. It will face Roku,  Apple TV, Samsung TV and Microsoft TV in this market. And it needs to lure pro viewers, too, the type of videophile who doesn’t mind building home theater PC based systems with all the trimmings.

I personally can’t think of any non-geeks using YouTube in the “lean back” manner that some geeks are doing with it today. Lots of less geeky folk already have such gaming consoles as the Sony Playstation 3 or Microsoft Xbox 360 — these have YouTube apps installed.

I wonder if this played into decisions at the board level. It’s a nascent market — not unlike the self-driving car market Google is determined to lead with its Google autonomous car project.

But how do you get people to pay for what they already get for free. YouTube has too many other channels available that offer similar content for free. In my opinion, one hook is exclusive television shows. And that’s what it’s planning.

Next, there’s the Hulu Plus Effect. Hulu has had a subscription service that’s not going away any time soon.  Kudos to Hulo. Still, that’s a bizarre model, too. It’s a paid service but you still get ads. Why pay for the content when you’re still served ads? Apps should’ve changed all that.

I’ve said before that I’m a partial cord-cutter. This is because there are still a few items not yet in place that will allow me to fully cut the cord. First off, live sports is a must. But services like Hulu Plus and now potentially a paid version of YouTube will not draw me in —  not until the content is too good to miss out on.

I will continue to use my Google TV and Playstation 3 in my ongoing efforts to, at least partially, cut the cord.

The new paid channels on YouTube offering may sound interesting, but they’re not interesting enough to draw me in on first analysis. What about you?

For, I’m Ant Pruitt.

Find all of my stories here.



  • I am not surprised by the move. I think that it will attract some studios, but will not increase viewership. TV networks aren’t going to go for it, some smaller independents might. The only thing that I think will really change is that those that have been making high-quality content and distributing it on YouTube for free (Think Machinima Films with Halo 4 – Forward Unto Dawn) will create paid content channels for their more popular / better productions, actually decreasing the value of the brand to the normal consumer.