Latest Round of Criticism for YouTube Paid Subscriptions: ‘Most of Us Are Not Happy’

When YouTube launched paid subscription channels in May, droves of users whipped out their wallets and said, “Take my money! I want to pay for videos I would normally watch for free!” Absolutely no one thought YouTube was having “the royal fuckup of their lives” at the time. Nope, the idea of paid channels wasn’t panned at all. /sarcasm

Well, now CEO Peter Griffith of Alchemy Networks, one of the original 30 channels that were part of the initiative, has weighed in with his own assessment of the paid channel model. In an interview with The Wrap, he described YouTube subscriptions as “still a long way off from being a viable business model” and that “most of us are not happy with the numbers we’ve seen.”

When Alchemy switched over to being a paid channel in May, Griffith expressed hope for success when he told Billboard: “Do we know this will work? We don’t. For us, it was a huge concern. But we do have anecdotal evidence that our particular audience is willing to pay for this type of content.”

Of course, Griffith hasn’t been the only big wig disappointed by the paid channel returns since then. Back in July, Adam Sutherland, SVP of global strategy and business developer for the National Geographic Society said about their paid kids channel, National Geographic Kids, “We had hoped to set the world on fire. We are not setting the world on fire right now.” Further, the CEO of RLJ Entertainment, Miguel Panella, said the subscription numbers for their paid YouTube channels OnCue and Acorn TV “ha[ve] not been particularly high.”

In response to those complaints, YouTube defended the subscription model by releasing a statement essentially saying it just needed more time: “We’re in the early days of piloting paid channels. Just as the Partner Program empowered creators to take their channels to the next level, we look forward to seeing how creators bring new content to their fan communities on YouTube.”

Griffith, a former cable executive, told The Wrap that “the economics on YouTube are challenged,” and thus is looking toward TV for better results. Alchemy Networks’ YouTube show “BRKDWN” has already made the jump to TV and is set to premiere on Bounce TV on Oct. 21.

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