YouTube’s Paywall: My take on HuffPostLive

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Well it’s official, YouTube launched a paywall around certain premium content. As I said in my HuffPost Live appearance today, it was inevitable. Once the darling of the User Generated Crowd, YouTube began the shift to professionally-produced content all the way back in 2008 when it realized that advertisers were skittish about supporting potentially pirated videos.

Yes, back in the early days of the Internet, we all wanted content to be free — or at least we grew accustomed to it being so as we assumed that eyeballs and advertising would sufficiently monetize this brave new world. But as a content creator myself, who has films on Netflix, Hulu, a book on Amazon, etc., if people see value in particular content, they should be willing to pay for it. And the content creator should have the freedom to decide whether to charge or not for his efforts (if no one buys it, so be it).

It doesn’t have to be an astronomical amount — and I like what YouTube is proposing at 99 cents. But what matters more here is choice. I’m willing to pay for content that I find valuable; presently, I don’t mind the plethora of monthly subscriptions that hit my credit card: Netflix, Mog, Audible and the occasional iTunes season’s pass. It’s still considerable cheaper than being shackled to what a cable company dictates I should pay for, even if I don’t watch 95% of those channels. It’s why I cut the cord years ago. I also don’t have to suffer through all those awful TV ads. Let us not forget: our media habits have largely been subsidized by advertising (TV, radio, newspapers, magazines), and that’s a rapidly changing business model.

A few interesting tidbits that I discovered while preparing for my appearance:

Gagnam Style, which presently has over 1.5 billion views as the most-watched video on YouTube has earned Psy $8 million in advertising royalties from the channel.

– Presently, 35 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. There are 1 billion active users.

– YouTube viewers consume 4 billion hours of video every month.

– 70% of ads on YouTube are structured in a way that if the user hits “Skip this Ad” — YouTube earns no revenues. Maybe that’s one reason why YouTube’s revenues are not specifically detailed in Google’s financial reports. And maybe that’s why they need to erect a paywall around certain channels that will generate money.