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YouTube expected to take on Netflix and co with paid subscription service

Google is gearing up to unveil a YouTube subscription service that would allow users to sign up for access to individual channels, according to the Financial Times.

The move, which could be announced as early as this week, will apply to as many as 50 YouTube channels. Subscriptions fees will begin around £1.50 per month per channel.

A YouTube spokesman said that the company has "nothing to announce at this time," but confirmed that it is reviewing a subscription-based plan.

"We're looking into creating a subscription platform that could bring even more great content to YouTube for our users to enjoy and provide our partners with another vehicle to generate revenue from their content, beyond the rental and ad-supported models we offer," the spokesman said in a statement.

According to the Financial Times, initial channel partners would include Howcast, World Wrestling Entertainment, The Onion, and gaming network Machinima.

Rumours about such a service began swirling in late January, pointing to subscription-based access to certain YouTube channels, which would cost between up to £5 a month, and be created by media outlets that already have large followings, like the aforementioned Machinima, Maker Studios, and Fullscreen. At the time, reports tipped charges for other content, including entire libraries of videos, live events, and self-help and financial advice shows.

"We have long maintained that different content requires different types of payment models," Google told AdAge in January. "The important thing is that, regardless of the model, our creators succeed on the platform. There are a lot of our content creators that think they would benefit from subscriptions, so we're looking at that."

If the company takes this step, it will begin competing with established subscription networks like Netflix and Hulu.

But video-based content isn't all YouTube is focused on right now. The Google-owned company has reportedly set its sights on a separate subscription music service, expected for launch later this year. It would allow anyone to listen to tracks for free, though paid options for ad-free listening are likely.

The rumours come after YouTube hit one billion monthly users — nearly one out of every two people on the Internet now visits the video sharing site.