UPDATE (03/16/15 1:04 pm EST): We promised we’d update from YouTube when we heard back: A source at the company says that while it’s something they’re exploring, there aren’t any details they are releasing quite yet. So this sounds like a big ass YES. They also quibbled over the term Video on Demand saying they already are “video on demand,” but sometimes we have to use common terms to communicate across boundaries. And for now, we mostly all commonly understand VOD to mean a sort of pay per view service.
Vimeo had a great video platform niche mostly to itself for a while with its Video On Demand option that allowed content creators to sell their bigger works directly to the public. It probably worked too well and made too many brand partnerships with companies like Machinima, because now YouTube allegedly wants one too.
But something doesn’t quite add up:
Supposedly to be modelled more after their Music Key service according to the Guardian, the YouTube Video on Demand option would allow YouTube creators and other entertainment entities to pay a flat fee for exclusive content — a sort of rivalry to Hulu or Netflix. But they’ve already tried the classic subscription model — and it hasn’t seemed to work, except for a handful of YouTubers like the Young Turks, runners of a news channel that constantly offers current events and opinions in a myriad of digestible formats.
More likely, if YouTube is unleashing a VOD option, it will work more along the lines of what Vimeo is doing. YouTube already has a version of this too, but for the time being it is mostly relegated to bringing you Hollywood movies online. Usually the sort of things you’d find in a Walmart bin, the flicks routinely cost you $2.99 to stream online. A much more effective version of this model would allow for movies by traditional YouTube creators like Hannah Hart, Grace Helbig and Mamrie Hart’s Camp Takota to stay at YouTube instead of being outsourced to iTunes, Vimeo or other VOD platforms.
Of course we reached out to YouTube for clarification. We’ll update when we hear back. In the meantime, we’ll choose to believe that YouTube won’t touch a hot stove twice when it comes to subscription options. But then, never be surprised when an enormous company fails to learn from history: usually the executives who made the initial mistake have long since been replaced, freeing the company up to stumble over the same blocks repeatedly.
We’ll see what happens. In the meantime, here’s a dancing skeleton to distract you: