YouTube's steady pivot from catering to native, independent creator talent toward catering to the entertainment and publishing corporations it was supposed to replace is set to continue, according to online media trade sources.
It's YouTube's owner, Google, who has a real and long-standing problem with legacy publishers – but not for nothing, the “olive branch” is now being offered on the giant video platform.
According to Digiday online magazine YouTube will by the end of this year start testing a tool that would allow legacy news publishers to sell subscriptions via their YouTube channel – and those would be, importantly, “subscriptions to their owned-and-operated digital properties.”
For now, these are still unconfirmed reports outlining YouTube's strategy to get publishers on side by addressing one of the grievances they have with tech companies that have been eating their lunch for years now – losing control over their own content and the sidelining of those “own properties.”
(The chief grievance, of course, is the revenue publishers feel they are losing thanks to tech giant's dominance in the ad market.)
The tool would reportedly allow news publishers to sell access to exclusive content and advanced features, but rather than on YouTube itself, on their own sites. YouTube, with its audience of billions, would serve as a conduit bringing new business to these companies (but also, of course, take a cut.)
It's hard to say whether this would be enough to get publishing corporations and sometimes governments that support them off Google's back – because they would much rather have YouTube pay them license fees for the videos on its platform, and Google ad revenue percentage for listing their article it its search results.
The tool now reportedly in development is a part of Google's 2018 News Initiative, a $300 million-worth project (in other words, a veritable drop in the bucket for the trillion-dollar company) that is supposed to help publishers get subscriptions, and also, as announced at the time, “fight fake news.”
Google seems to love duplication of effort and then abandonment of projects, so before YouTube's subscription tool gets rolled out – if ever – it's good to remember that there is already something out there for publishers called “Subscribe With Google,” and has been for a while.