YouTube’s Subscription Service Kicks Off With Sesame Street, Ultimate Fighting Channels

You’ve watched every single Maru video on YouTube, guffawed countless times at the “hide your kids” guy and every time your friend sends you a link you’re all, “Saw that already.” But will you pay YouTube to watch streaming Internet content? Google is sure hoping so, opening the doors to its paid subscription service yesterday with 30 content creators including The Jim Henson Co. and Ultimate Fighting Championship.

And no, those two channels are not connected — but can you imagine if they were? Terrifying.

Anyway, Reuters reports that creators set their own subscription fees and also accept ads for their channels. They’ve got the power to set the price, which will need to be competitive with other online content providers like Hulu, Netflix and iTunes.

The prices for subscriptions so far seem pretty on par with what everyone else is doing: It’s $4.99 a month for golf lessons from the PGA Golf Academy, for example, or $2.99 to watch full-length episodes of Fraggle Rock.

Soon enough, YouTube will also offer content from traditional TV and film producers, say the bigwigs at Google. That has the potential to rival cable and TV operators, but not quite yet, as one media analyst with BTIG points out.

“I think everyone who creates video programming should be worried about the growth of new content channels,” he said. “Broadcast TV has been hurt by cable. Broadcast is still a very large business despite fragmentation.”

Now that consumers are used to hopping online to find something to watch, the next step is convincing people they should pay for it — a hurdle which could be overcome if companies like YouTube or hey, cable channels like HBO, offer the kinds of TV shows and movies people want to watch, but don’t want to pay for in a bundled cable subscription.

We can only hope.

Previously: Report: YouTube Introducing Paid Subscription Channels Soon

YouTube starts paid subscription service [Reuters]