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Re/code | November 5, 2014

Susan Wojcicki on the Quite Possibly Paid Future of YouTube

By: Liz Gannes

What’s the state of the world’s largest video site today?

YouTube is more mobile by the day; it’s getting 50 percent of its views from users on phones and tablets (a significant jump up from the previously issued stat of 40 percent). Overall, it’s growing more than 50 percent year over year in watch time. And more than 80 percent of its traffic comes from outside the United States.

Also, it has a relatively new CEO, Susan Wojcicki, who transferred to the gig earlier this year at the request of Google CEO Larry Page after more than a decade leading Google business teams.

At our recent Code/Mobile conference, Wojcicki did not articulate a radically different view of what the video juggernaut could become. She said YouTube should get better at suggesting what you might want to watch next, especially on the small screen of a phone. She indicated an interest in bringing more technology related to YouTube in-house, quite possibly by acquiring startups.

And she also said she’d like to offer users an alternative to those increasingly pesky pre-roll video advertisements: A YouTube subscription service.

A paid twist for the long-free site would be based on the examples of older media types, like cable television and magazines, and also the more recent cases of apps that offer users the option to pay a fee or watch an ad, Wojcicki said. It’s also in the context of CBS and HBO recently announcing they’ll offer paid products to consumers directly over the Internet.

Though the idea been bandied about for years, a YouTube subscription service could now be right around the corner, Wojcicki said. It’s perhaps not what you’d expect to hear from Google’s long-time ads chief.

When would YouTube subscriptions launch? “It’s nearer term,” Wojcicki said. “YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is really great, in the sense that it has enabled us to scale to a billion users and anyone can access the content. But there are going to be cases where people say I don’t want to see the ads, I want to have a different type of experience.”

Link to Re/code for full video of Susan Wojcicki interview