Poor YouTube is having a rough year. With Facebook nipping at their heels, the video giant has been trying anything and everything to stay on top. That includes pushing its way into streaming music and taking on former friend Twitch in the game-streaming arena. It also announced the possibility of an ad-free version of YouTube supported by subscriptions, but it seems like the Google-owned company may be having second thoughts.
YouTube announced the new subscription-only version last spring, but since that time, we haven’t heard much. There’ve been no updates, no additional announcements, and certainly no rollout. In the meantime, it looks like Google is heading in the opposite direction with its other streaming media platform Google Play. YouTube announced just last week the Google Play music, which had previously been an ad-free subscription supported service, would open its doors to unpaying peasants with a new ad-supported model. Streaming media … supported by ads … no subscription … this sounds familiar. In fact, it sounds a lot like the very same YouTube model that the company was trying to innovate away from with subscriptions.
All the signs seem to be pointing away from a subscription-based model for YouTube. Fans didn’t really embrace the concept when YouTube experimented with subscription-based channels, and there doesn’t seem to be much more demand today. The company’s long radio silence on the project and the fact that Google seems to be pivoting away from subscriptions generally don’t bode well for the new initiative either. An ad-less YouTube may still be in our future, but it’s looking increasingly like a mirage on the horizon.