Watching videos on YouTube has always been free - but that doesn't mean it always will be.
YouTube executives this week spoke publicly about that very eventuality, revealing that paid channels and videos on YouTube will likely be an important part of its business going forward.
YouTube Vice President Robert Kyncl told reporters on Wednesday that paid content will be an "incredibly important" tool in the site's efforts to create "additional revenue streams" for content makers.
He admitted that many users will push back against paid YouTube videos, but predicted that video makers will experiment with different models and "over time, a lot of people will figure it out."
Article continues below
Don't get too excited
Google has been considering charging users for paid YouTube content since at least 2009.
Paid YouTube discussions heated up again earlier this year, when the rumors began flowing in.
That's not to say these YouTube execs actually admitted anything concrete, though, and it could still be some time before the Google-owned video site starts allowing content creators to charge viewers.
We asked YouTube whether they could provide us with any more details or anything concrete at all, and a company spokesperson sent over the following statement:
"We have nothing to announce at this time, but we're looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our creators with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer."
That's what college is for
But that also means they likely haven't ruled anything out, and Kyncl's reference to "experimentation" could indicate that enterprising YouTubers will have some flexibility when it comes to how they charge their viewers.
Charging a flat rental-style fee per video could work for a company like Disney, which hinted at putting full-length films up as early as 2009. YouTube even put up a rentals store in 2010, seemingly testing the waters for future endeavors.
But other models could work as well. Users could pay a subscription fee to gain access to entire channels; the site's head of global sales, Lucas Watson, reportedly said on Wednesday that this model could work for content makers with "passionate but very narrow audience segments."
Even a pay-per-minute model might work for certain segments.
YouTube also reported on Wednesday that its traffic climbed to 1 billion viewers every month.