Online streaming content hub YouTube recently announced it was undergoing a trial period of allowing certain content from a select number of its partners to be downloaded. Foremost among those partners are several universities in California, which, according to YouTube Communications official Victoria Katsarou, are the primary drivers of these trials.
‘We’ve had lots of users and partners come up to us and tell us that they’re interested in offering [downloads], and the demand that we’ve seen has been from universities,’ she said. ‘That’s why [they are] the first partners that we’re launching with.’
Katsarou says both users and content providers want ways to access videos that aren’t limited to online streaming so that YouTube video content can be watched without depending upon an Internet connection (such as in classrooms that may not be connected) or on mobile devices such as iPods.
In terms of copyright concerns that could arise with files being shared, Katsarou assures that content providers have a lot of potential options in terms of copyright licensing (such as choosing individual terms of Creative Commons licensing) and download pricing should the downloading trials become expanded.
‘If it actually picks up, we are thinking of offering more options in terms of the rights,’ she said. ‘We don’t have any real limitation on pricing. Everyone right now is choosing [to charge] a dollar. If somebody wants to [charge] 50 cents or $1.20, there’s nothing really stopping them from doing it.’
Furthermore, she also says that YouTube will not fundamentally change its model as a result of offering downloadable content, and that the option to offer video for download is purely the content creator and/or the rights holder’s choice.
‘Definitely, we are still primarily a streaming site,’ Katsarou said. ‘The main way we are expecting to make money on the site is through the ad-based model, but we definitely see this as an opportunity for additional income.’
As for the length of the trial period, Katsarou says there’s no ‘prescribed end date’ and that the next move in making more content available for download ‘depends on how people respond’ to these trials.