YouTube launches geo-restricted paid channels

Martin Brinkmann
May 9, 2013
Updated • May 9, 2013
Music and Video, Youtube

YouTube launched a pilot program today that brings subscription services to the world's most popular video hosting site. According to Google, only a "small group of partners" will offer paid channels on YouTube during the pilot phase.

These partners can charge subscription fees starting at $0.99 per month for channel access. Some of the partners that participate in the pilot are UFC Select, TNA Wrestling, National Geographic Kids and

Videos that are only accessible by subscribers are displayed with a Dollar sign next to them, and any attempt to play them will display subscription information at the top right corner. A preview of the video will play automatically and stop after two minutes in. The subscribe button is also displayed underneath the video.

Videos are only displayed to you in first place if you are connecting from a country that the paid channel is available in.

youtube paid videos preview

Users who connect from a country the paid channel is available in can browse all videos offered by it to get an impression of what it has to offer before they subscribe. While they do get a 14-day trial, they may still look around to make sure that it offers sufficient contents that justify the price.

Here are the details that came to light in the announcement:

  • Subscription fees start at $0.99 per month.
  • Channels may offer discounted yearly rates.
  • Every channel will offer a 14-day free trial to users.
  • If you subscribe, you get access to the channel from all of your devices including PCs, mobile phones, tablets and televisions.
  • Paid channels are only available in select countries. IP checks determine whether you can subscribe to a channel or not. Additional checks may be made during checkout.
  • A list of paid channels is available here.

youtube paid channels

I have to admit that I'm disappointed by the launch. It is a pilot and I get that things may change along the line but country restrictions right away are a bad sign in my opinion. YouTube's global exposure makes it ideal in my opinion to break away from the crusted local-only offers that never made sense to me in first place (I would happily pay for Netflix if it were available in my country, but it is not).

I had hopes that TV channels and content producers would make available their videos to a global audience, and I would have taken them up on the offer if only they would allow me to. That dream shatters once again and while Google may change things after the pilot, it is likely that country-restrictions will remain in place. I'm left with channels from my country that I'm not interested in, and interesting channels that I would subscribe to from other countries that I cannot subscribe to.

If you are in the US, congratulations and all the best with that service. If you get the dreaded "this paid channel is unavailable in your country" notification, welcome to the club.


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  1. ProcessHacker said on May 11, 2013 at 2:48 am

    Resist the “ecosystem” mindset. App stores, Adobe Cloud, etc. This is to milk you dry. This is their future, they have planned for you. You won’t have a workstation to edit video, you’ll have spied on mobile piece of crap. Oh yeah, you pay to be spied on.

    Really, the people who need to be spied on are the ones doing the spying.

    But don’t take my word for it. Keep believing everything is golden. It feels good, I know it does. That’s exactly why corporate news doesn’t tell you about the 200 garbage/unconstitutional/and crap bills going through congress each week. Keep believing there is no bubble in bonds or stocks, keep believing gold and silver isn’t money.

  2. Anonymous said on May 10, 2013 at 5:06 am

    Indeed ferry disappointing indeed. Not only because probably prizes will be closer to $4,99.
    I have looked at the list of channels and there not quit HBO (or even look a like) quality.
    Could it be that they YouTube owners are en-loured by the all mighty dollar?

  3. Wayfarer said on May 9, 2013 at 9:42 pm

    From Sky TV to Google, what subscription services of all kinds don’t grasp is that, for a lot of ordinary people, £100 cash is neither here nor there (if they have it at the time) but £5 a month is a hell of a lot of money. Single purchases – fine – even of luxury items – all it takes is a bit of temptation. Regular subscription (or as my late father used to say “permanent debt”) – forget it.

    It’s not paying for services that people object to – increasingly, it’s committing to multiple contracts/subscriptions for all sorts of things. There are of course other ways of getting money out of people – as payg mobile phones have proved over the last few years. But financial commitment makes more and more people nervous these days.

  4. rpwheeler said on May 9, 2013 at 6:27 pm

    You know that it’s all about damn “rights-holders” and copyright lobbyists. They do or make possible to sue even physical goods resellers (from books to even cars), they want to control everything, and Google doesn’t dare to confront them too much.

    As for me and paid channel, — I’m so overloaded with information, available for free on the Internet, that I don’t know why I should care about paid channel unavailability, really :)

  5. Anonymous said on May 9, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Paid content and geo-restritions? Just asking for people to pirate it…

    1. Stonecold said on May 11, 2013 at 8:16 pm

      Doesn’t matter. People will pirate and they’ll still bathe in the money they get from people who are too stupid to realize what YouTube is doing.

  6. Nebulus said on May 9, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    The lack of availability of music/movies/etc. in some countries is the greatest incentive to piracy. This is the first step all publishers should take in order to reduce pirating their materials, but it seems that they never learn…

  7. leon said on May 9, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    yeah this wont end well

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