Hold on. Breathe. The news is true. YouTubehas just (finally) made it official that it will allow content providers to charge viewers access to videos. So, what will this do to the next Harlem Shuffle, the next cat floundering in a paper bag, or the next Justin Bieber musical sensation? Not much, probably.
Most of YouTube will remain free to the public, and the channels that do decide to charge customers will probably be able to do so because they know what their discerning customers want. YouTube is going niche. This means that we can actually choose the content we want to pay for, just as we choose whether or not we want to subscribe via pay walls to our favorite online newspapers and magazines.
Though much of the public still thinks all content should be free, it is slowly coming to the realization that some people actually make a living by creating content, and ultimately consumers will have to make a choice between paying for quality content and not having access to that content at all. This increasing reality has found its way onto YouTube and it doesn’t signify the end of the world for online content. It might, however, signify the demise of cable television.
The public hates paying for cable packages that include hundreds of channels it will never watch. For years, the public has asked itself, “Why should I pay for TV programming that doesn’t interest me at all? If I order a pepperoni pizza and it comes with a side of lobster bisque and jar of jelly beans for a total of $112, I’d be an idiot to pay.” But pay we did, until now.
Now that our TV’s have gone digital that space in our homes reserved for watching television has become a portal to the online universe. But that digital freedom won’t be free. And it shouldn’t be. Because, you know, even bloggers who no longer pay for cable still have to pay for electricity. Ahem. And someday we’ll all be on YouTube.