YouTube is investigating new subscription services that could make it possible for visitors to watch videos without watching ads. The change, which CEO Susan Wojcicki mentioned as part of Re/Code's Code/Mobile conference Monday, would be a major shift from the strategy that made YouTube the biggest video website in the world, attracting more than a billion visitors each month.
Wojcicki took control of the company earlier this year and has since been exploring new ways to create profit for YouTube, which Google purchased for $1.65 billion in 2006. Saying her plan is in the “near term,” Wojcicki told interviewers subscriptions would give users more options and simply make more sense at a time when more videos are being watched via mobile devices.
“YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users, but there's going to be a point where people don't want to see the ads,” she said. She added that users “will either choose ads, or pay a fee, which is an interesting model. ...We're thinking about how to give users options.”
YouTube channel owners can already sell their own subscriptions, charging fees to continue watching their content. But the idea of a wider initiative was inspired by the success of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, streaming services that do (except in the case of Netflix) host advertisements.
“We rolled out the ability for an individual channel to do a subscription,” Wojcicki told the conference. “We've also been thinking about other ways that it might make sense for us. If you look at media over time, most of them have both ads and subscriptions.”