YouTube is now offering paid monthly subscriptions for 53 of the channels in its network.
The pilot scheme was officially announced on Thursday following months of speculation, and kicks off with a selection of channels from the brutality of Ultimate Fighting Championship, right down to the family-friendly Jim Henson TV station.
Users will be able to buy monthly subscriptions from $0.99 (£60p) and will get discounts when they sign up for an entire year.
Like iTunes, the streaming site will also be offering access to single episodes and entire seasons for one-off fees.
For example, the forthcoming Sesame Street channel will allow users to buy a single episode for $1.99 ($2.99 in HD), while the full season will be available for $17.99 ($27.99 in HD).
Once the subscription has been paid for, users will be able to access videos from their computer or any of the YouTube mobile apps, as they’re currently able to with free subs.
In a post on the YouTube blog, the Google-owned company said it was looking for more and more partners and assured that more channels will be on the way in the coming weeks
The post read: “This is just the beginning. We’ll be rolling paid channels out more broadly in the coming weeks as a self-service feature for qualifying partners. And as new channels appear, we’ll be making sure you can discover them, just as we’ve been helping you find and subscribe to all the channels you love across YouTube.
“Just as the partner program empowered creators to take their channels to the next level, we look forward to seeing how this great community of creators moves ahead with a new way to reach the fan communities that made their channels a hit. You’ll be hearing more from us, and them, as we get creator and user feedback and build out this exciting offering.”
You can check out the channels currently being piloted here, although some (including, sadly, the Jim Henson channel headlined by Fraggle Rock) are not yet available in the UK.
So is this the start of everything good on YouTube disappearing behind a paywall? Or is a great way to help content providers keep on producing the goods? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.