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It’s been rumored to be on the way for quite some time, but Google flicked the switch that sees YouTube’s new paid channels go live. More details can be found right after the jump.

Part of the existing partner channel program, the paid channels appear to be part of a small pilot program, with just a few channels currently available. It would appear that the subscriptions start at $0.99 per month, though we expect that to be a rarity. Current examples include the Sesame Street channel that offers two different subscription options depending on whether the viewer wants their content in HD or not.

As things stand during these early days of paid channels, Sesame Street is available for $1.99 in SD or $2.99 in HD. There’s a subscription model too, where $17.99 or $27.99 will get you access to everything served up via the new channel. This all sounds very similar to how series’ are sold on iTunes, for example, and YouTube does appear to be trying to compete with the likes of Apple, Netflix and other media streaming outlets.

The new paid channels will allow high quality content to find a home on YouTube whereas normally companies may shy away from the purely ad-based revenue model. And we can’t deny high-quality content, either way.

The fore-bearer to the new paid channels, YouTube’s partner channels, were originally added to make it easier for episodic content to live on the streaming video site with a hope of going toe-to-toe with Netflix. This new revenue stream will only cement YouTube’s position in that fight. Though, we have our doubts whether YouTube will be able to compete with an already-established, well settled method of consuming video content.

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And it’s already working. B-film producer Roger Corman has already announced that he will be airing a new series via YouTube which will showcase the studio’s 400 movies as well as feature interviews with the people behind them. Corman has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry before they became famous, with Robert de Niro, Martin Scorsese just two that featured in his movies.

It’s early days for paid YouTube channels, but we wait with baited breath to see what new content finds its way to the internet’s biggest source of video content because of them.

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