YouTube plans subscription services this spring

YouTube is reportedly planning to start selling subscriptions to some channels this year, and is in talks with video producers about the idea.

The move would put YouTube in competition with existing services from the likes of Netflix – which boasts 30 million subscribers – and Hulu. It already offers pay-per-view and video rentals.

According to AdAge, the company’s been asking content producers to submit plans for pay-for channels which would cost between $1 and $5 per month. Material could include content libraries, self-help shows and preview access to live events as well as more conventional programming.

There would be around 25 subscription channels at launch – perhaps as soon as this spring – and that the revenue split would likely be the same 45:55 percent deal used for most YouTube ads. Content providers would also be able to include ads in their services.

Potential partners haven’t been named, but would likely include  Machinima, Maker Studios, and Fullscreen, which already work with YouTube. However, new producers could also get involved.

In the past, YouTube has hinted at the possibility of signing up struggling cable networks which can’t build big enough audiences on cable TV to command subscription fees from distributors.

YouTube made a $100 million investment in original programming in 2011, introducing 100 new channels. “For advertisers, these channels will represent a new way to engage and reach their global consumers,” said the company’s global head of content partnerships Robert Kyncl.