It looks like a paid, ad-free subscription option for YouTube users will soon be a reality.
Yesterday, YouTube's CEO Susan Wojcicki took the stage at the Code Mobile conference in Half Moon Bay, Calif. While she dropped some interesting figures – half of the platforms views currently come via mobile devices, and the site continues to grow 50 percent a year in terms of watch time – her biggest reveal was that YouTube is exploring a push into subscription services.
"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,” Wojcicki said, according to Recode.
It sounds as if YouTube's subscription model will be a variation on Hulu's, except in lieu of paying for premium content on top of ad-supported content that's available for free, users will pay to opt-out of viewing ads on the platform. There are already many apps that support this model, Wojcicki said onstage. In the same vein, "we’re thinking about how to give users options."
Perhaps the most surprising thing about this move is that it's taken YouTube so long. While the company has flirted with subscriptions before – in the spring of 2013 it debuted an option that allowed select channel owners to charge users to watch their videos – this is the first rumbling of a paid-subscription option that will allow users to avoid ads on the platform.
YouTube's subscriptions will likely focus on specific content verticals, such as news or music, according to The Wall Street Journal. While YouTube's central ad-supported business model will remain intact, users would have the option of paying for subscriptions. For example, once YouTube's long awaited streaming service finally drops, users could either continue to listen to music with ads on the platform, or pay for an ad-free streaming experience.
"If you look at media over time most of them have both ads and subscriptions," Wojcicki said.