YouTube says, information does not want to be free

February 01, 2013 / by / 0 Comment

For as long as there has been an Internet, there have been supporters of the poorly thought out, misled, and pretentious canard, “information wants to be free.” Does it? Perhaps bad information wants to be free. Good information wants to be supported with dollars. When all information becomes free, information becomes useless and inaccurate, supported by a mob mentality, and eliminates any sense of professionalism. Regrettably, many professional journalists with political axes to grind and who ought to know better have fallen prey to this falsehood, putting up blogs and web sites that pay tribute to the concept of “information wants to be free” but at the same time, without fail, including a PayPal donation page.

Until now, YouTube has been a bastion of free video, which for the most part, consists of about a million shots of somebody’s cat doing something cute, two million small children doing something that only their parents would love, and three million unintelligible rants.

According to an article in AdAge , YouTube is planning a paid subscription service this spring. Putting itself in competition with the likes of Hulu and Netflix, YouTube is reaching out to a small group of producers, who will create paid channels that will cost from between $1 and $5 per month. It’s likely that the content channels will go beyond the typical two- or three-minute shorts, to feature more in-depth features like self-help, financial advice, entertaining series with high production value likeToymatons, or live event productions.

Don’t start dreaming of profits from your home videos yet, though. YouTube, particularly after the fee model rollout, is likely to become a two-tiered proposition: On one hand, it will remain a huge and immensely popular reservoir of amateur video, which while mildly entertaining in some cases, do not merit any sort of payment. On the other, YouTube will become a venue for professionally-produced, studio-quality videos, produced by people who actually have talent and know what they’re doing. The small minority of YouTube videos that exhibit this type of quality typically have high production value, take a long time to produce, and often involve some capital investment. These videos deserve to get in on a piece of the cash flow.

What this means is that professionalism on YouTube is about to take a quantum leap forward, and more importantly, a new entrepreneurial opportunity for small indie producers is about to present itself. There will only be a handful of paid channels at the beginning as the paid venue goes through its beta phase, but it’s very likely that the possibility of a real, money-making opportunity will push more professionals into the YouTube marketplace. The initial revenue split from subscription fees is likely to be the same as the 45/55 split currently offered for advertisements. Offering low-cost subscriptions however, will give entrepreneurs a more reliable revenue stream and a better possibility of actually creating a viable, profitable indie production business based on YouTube.


A veteran of the dotcom boom, Dan's history dates back to those heady days when 19-year-old Stanford dropouts with $10 million in venture money were creating great (and sometimes not-so-great) things. His deep experience in helping companies create their messaging strategies, combined with his years as an industry observer and pundit, has led him to create Ugly Dog Media. From the beginning, his strategy has been to surround himself with incredibly talented people, and this strategy has enabled him to build Ugly Dog Media from nothing into the international marketing firm it is today. Dan has been in the industry long enough to know what works . . . what doesn't work . . . and most importantly, what shouldn't work but still does. Dan received his B.A. in Literature from University of California, Santa Cruz.

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