Advertising is a necessary evil. If you look around this very page, you'll see ads that keep Android Police afloat. (Unless you're blocking them, in which case you owe me a beer for every paragraph you read.) Google knows its way around ads - that's how an incredibly expensive, bandwidth-intensive video service like YouTube makes money. But if you could skip the annoying commercials before your videos, even the 5 second blips that require an extra click, would you? You'll probably have that option soon.
Tired of seeing these?
A recent email sent to active YouTube channel operators says that Google is getting ready to implement a subscription-based, advertising-free option. This isn't some vague hint or APK teardown string: the official email basically confirms that it's coming.
We’re excited to build on this momentum by taking another big step in favor of choice: offering fans an ads-free version of YouTube for a monthly fee. By creating a new paid offering, we’ll generate a new source of revenue that will supplement your fast growing advertising revenue.
Following the link in the email shows updated YouTube Partner Program terms that will go into effect in June. The new text explicitly says that 55% of subscription revenues will be paid out to Partner Program members based on which videos users watch.
Subscription Revenues. YouTube will pay you 55% of the total net revenues recognized by YouTube from subscription fees that are attributable to the monthly views or watchtime of your Content as a percentage of the monthly views or watchtime of all or a subset of participating content in the relevant subscription offering (as determined by YouTube). If your Content is included in and viewed by a user in multiple subscription offerings, YouTube will pay you based on the subscription offering with the highest amount of net revenues recognized by YouTube, as calculated by YouTube.
According to the wording, this is a separate subscription function from the YouTube Music Key service. It's possible that ad-free viewing will be extended beyond Music Key videos for current subscribers. Or not. Right now there's not enough information to know. We also don't know how much said ad-free service would cost, though I wouldn't expect it to go beyond $5 a month or so. But the email implies that it's coming soon, and a mention of mobile revenue suggests that your ad-free subscription will apply to your phone or tablet as well as your browser. It's a safe bet that the same thing applies to Android TV, ChromeOS, et cetera.
People are willing to pay a premium to watch professional digital content without ads - that's why they pay for Netflix or individual shows and movies on Google Play and Amazon. Will consumers be willing to pay for (mostly) amateur content on YouTube without ads? We'll soon find out.