YouTube already stands alone as the web’s most famous distributor of video content. The site specializes in free clips supplemented by a modest lineup of pay-per-view material.
Now, the site is getting deeper into the pay arena, launching a series of mini-content channels specifically targeting niche audiences.
YouTube is betting Internet users will pay a couple of bucks per month to select from a broad range of genre content — from “Sesame Street,” “Inspector Gadget” and NatGeo Kids content to UFC mixed-martial arts fights and horror movies — supplied by an initial roster of 30 partners.
The channels will average around $2.99 cents per month, but will start as low as 99 cents monthly. A full list of channels is available atyoutube.com/channels/paid_channels.One of top categories represented in the initial cut of YouTube pay channels, an initiative that’s been in the works for more than a year, is children’s programming.
YouTube, acquired by Google in 2006, says the new channels won’t directly compete with cable companies. Consider me skeptical. Our family cut the cable cord a year ago, leaning on Netflix’s streaming service to deliver all the Caillou, Curious George and Justin Time our boys demand. A service like YouTube’s channel program, particularly viewed from a smart TV with Internet access, will allow parents to bypass cable for much of their cartoon viewing needs at a fraction of the price for cable.