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YouTube plans to let news publishers sell off-platform subscriptions through their channels

Digiday 05 May 2020 04:01
May 5, 2020 by Tim Peterson & Max Willens

YouTube’s latest olive branch to news publishers extends to publishers’ own subscription businesses.

YouTube is developing a tool for news publishers to sell subscriptions to their owned-and-operated digital properties through their YouTube channels, according to publishers that have been briefed on the matter. YouTube has told publishers as recently as April that it plans to begin testing the subscription sales tool by the end of this year. A YouTube spokesperson declined to comment.

YouTube has been talking with publishers about the subscription sales tool since 2019. The tool’s development is part of YouTube’s involvement in the Google News Initiative, a program that YouTube’s parent company formed in March 2018 to support the news industry. However, some details still need to be sorted out, such as YouTube’s cut of each subscription sold and what subscriber information will be shared with publishers, according to the publishers.

YouTube’s subscription sales tool for publishers would resemble the channel memberships tool it introduced in June 2018 for channels to offer perks, such exclusive access to live broadcasts, to people who pay a monthly fee. In lieu of on-platform perks, people would pay for a subscription to access content that otherwise sits behind the paywall on a given publisher’s site or apps.

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