YouTube Considering An Ad-Free, Subscription-Based Version

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Google’s YouTube online video service might soon provide a way to do away with those increasingly annoying pre-roll ads forever: The network is considering the adoption of a new version, says the Wall Street Journal, that would get rid of ads altogether, and introduce subscription-based billing for customers who want it instead.

YouTube head Susan Wojcicki is spearheading the attempt to bring more options to YouTube users, and she explained at yesterday’s Code Mobile conference that it would offer users a way to avoid the ads they’re increasingly wanting to avoid, especially on platforms like mobile where it’s less easy to just tab away while the ad plays and then resume your viewing.

The subscription model would be a choice provided to users, suggested Wojcicki, and would exist alongside the continuing main revenue model of offering ad-supported content for free. Subscription-based service would make YouTube resemble Netflix in some regards, and the WSJ’s sources indicate that it would be focused on certain types of video content, including news.

Bucketed subscriptions that focus on specific types of content might help increase the appeal for paying users, and you an imagine a scenario where Google charges a relatively small amount for any individual bucket subscription, letting users put together ad-free bundles of content they consume regularly, while still allowing them access to the rest for occasional, ad-supported use.

The plan overall sounds like a natural extension of Google’s yet-to-be-launched music subscription service. Wojcicki said it should arrive “soon” at the Code conference, however, though she wouldn’t address specific availability windows.

If YouTube does indeed go the subscription route, expect it to start to inherit some of the traits of its old media predecessors, including original series with celebrity clout, and more promotional efforts dedicated to individual programs. It will definitely change the character of the video network one way or another, but at least users will have an option to avoid having to click those skip buttons (when that’s even an option on the table.)

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