There appears to be an interesting case of Chinese whispers going on around YouTube’s plans to charge. A number of sites reported that the company is introducing a Netflix-style premium monthly subscription to remove the ads from its service. YouTube’s Robert Kyncl was quoted as saying a launch is coming soon, with his company currently “fine-tuning the experience”.
The problem: the reports all lead back to a news clip from broadcaster CNBC, which is very clearly captioned “YouTube to launch a Music Key subscription”. In other words, exactly what it announced when its dedicated music service launched in beta late last year. Music Key is currently free to early invitees, but yes, it will introduce a subscription in the coming months. Not quite as much of a news bombshell as has been painted, then.
Something that IS new, though, is the long-rumoured launch of a version of YouTube for children. USA Today reports that it will go live on Monday (23 February) as a free app for Android devices, with better parental controls, no comments and a simpler interface. “We’ve seen 50% growth in viewing time on YouTube, but for our family entertainment channels, it’s more like 200%,” noted product manager Shimrit Ben-Yair.
That 50% year-on-year growth in viewing time is interesting though: a sign that YouTube isn’t yet feeling an impact from the growth of native video on Facebook, as well as other platforms jostling for a slice of its lunch. “There are only a couple of companies that are growing as fast as we are at the scale we are,” said Kyncl at Code/Media. “We expected a deceleration of the business and it is actually accelerating.”