There’s a new way to get around those ads that play before YouTube videos – paying money to watch YouTube videos. The good news is you’ll get much more than your everyday homemade YouTube videos when subscribing to a premium YouTube channel. Paid YouTube channels are the latest invention from the popular video-sharing site, allowing YouTube users to pay anywhere from 99 cents per month to $49.99 per year (depending on the channel) to get full access to anything from the best BBC TV shows to full UFC fight replays or TNA wrestling to YouTube music channels featuring full-length classic concerts by Madonna, The Doors, and Pink Floyd.
You may have seen YouTube channels before – TEDTalks, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and Bad Lip Reading certainly come to mind. With paid YouTube channels the company is starting to provide a new and more affordable online alternative to cable television starting with something less than an all-star cast. With the notable exception of the star-studded live concerts channel, Big Bird, Adam Carolla, and Agatha Christie are some of the biggest names you’ll find to date. The channels are extremely affordable, though, and each offer a free 14-day trial period. Let’s look at some of the best paid YouTube channels of the 51 channels currently available.
BEST PAID YOUTUBE CHANNELS
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Your favorite paid YouTube channel will depend on your personal interests. Being a theater buff, I was personally thrilled at the variety of quality full-length plays in HD provided by the Digital Theater channel ($4.99/month). The plays skew more Masterpiece Theater than Broadway, but this channel is the only way my budget will ever get me in to see Jonathan Pryce or David Tennant doing Shakespeare, or Megan McCarthy performing Stephen Sondheim.
If you’re a Harley-Davidson owner, your $6.99/month subscription to the Fix My Hog channel will pay for itself several times over with motorcycle repair advice from the experts. Sports car enthusiasts can see the prestigious Pebble Beach sports car show and North American International Auto Show by subscribing to Cars.tv ($1.99/month). Other niche interests such as cooking and photography are catered to by Recipe.TV ($1.99/month) and PhotoGuide+ ($4.99/month) respectively, featuring subject matter experts who are well-known names only in the most discriminating households.
Some of the best-programmed paid YouTube channels are just kids’ stuff. No, really – they’re kids’ stuff, providing outstanding childrens’ programming like Sesame Street: Full Episodes ($3.99/month), National Geographic Kids ($3.99/month), and a popular animated turtle on the Official Franklin channel ($1.99/month).
PAID YOUTUBE MOVIE CHANNELS
If you like watching movies online via video on demand services then you’ll appreciates the YouTube movie channels. You won’t find any big American blockbusters, but there are individual gems and international hits on these channels and the monthly charge is less than you’d pay to rent the same movies for one night. International and Indie film lovers should rush right over to Magnet Releasing ($2.99/month), which boasts award-winning international hits like Big Man Japan and District B13, plus Indie faves like Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie and Rutger Hauer’s Hobo with a Shotgun.
If you like it ‘so bad it’s good’ movies Roger Corman’s Drive-In ($3.99/month) streams the legendary low-budget director’s big hits to your computer. The pickings are currently slim, but do include the 1960 Little Shop of Horrors with Jack Nicholson. Corman insists he’s uploading more of his enormous library of flicks at the rate of 30 films per month. While Minis & Movies ($1.99/month or $19.99/year) resurrects popular 1980s miniseries and made-for-TV movies like Lonesome Dove, and Merlin.
PAID YOUTUBE MUSIC CHANNELS
It’s easy to pick out the most star-powered and universally appealing of all the premium channels by looking at the YouTube music channel paid offering. None of them really compares with Qello ($4.99/month or $49.99/year), an enormous library of live performance and concert films from the biggest names in rock and pop. You’ll get full live concerts from The Who, Queen, Coldplay, Marilyn Manson, and lots more. There are also full-length concert films like The Doors Live at the Hollywood Bowl and Madonna: Sticky & Sweet Tour, plus documentaries about Jay-Z, Beyonce, and Justin Bieber. If you want an A-List YouTube premium channel, none is more premium than Qello.
Would you pay YouTube a couple dollars a month for classy BBC theater or trashy American cinema? Can real-life TV producers compete with the low-budget likes of Maru the Cat and Charlie Bit My Finger? Are there any 80s miniseries other than “Lonesome Dove” that you would watch? Channel your opinions into the comments section below.