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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 6th, 2013
07:59 PM ET

YouTube considers launching pay-per-view model

YouTube may have found a way to put a price tag on watching a guy freak out over a double rainbow. The website is reportedly getting ready to launch new premium channels to compete with services like Hulu and Netflix.

According to a report in the Financial Times, YouTube could launch a pay-per-view model for some of its channels as early as this week, with subscriptions starting at $1.99/month.

When YouTube first hit the internet back in 2005, who could have known it would become the place where pop culture icons are born? Without it, the world may never have been swept away by the boyish charm of Justin Bieber, who last year tweeted "5 years ago today i started this youtube channel and you all changed my life. thank you."

Viewers may have never discovered the cuter side of cannibalism, with the "Charlie bit my finger" video. Or laughed, albeit somewhat shamefully, when a university student who was being arrested and shocked with a Taser after disturbing a town hall forum with then-Sen. John Kerry cried out, "Don't tase me, bro."

Thus far, the biggest price viewers have had to pay for YouTube content has been finding the patience to sit through a 30-second ad.

Industry analysts say if the pay-per-view model happens, it would open the door for YouTube to offer movie rentals, or video-on-demand services. It could eventually become the go-to site for watching live sporting events.

CNN reached out to YouTube, and a spokesperson responded with the statement: "We have nothing to announce at this time, but 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."

So soak in all the keyboard cat you can over the next few days. Pretty soon, getting a feline fix on YouTube could cost you.

“I think this is a really big deal. I think it could grow and it could put YouTube in a position to say, ‘We’re going to start competing stronger with Netflix and Amazon. And we’re going to become like they all aim to be, another cable channel,'" said Rocco Pendola, columnist with TheStreet.com.

Companies like Netflix and Hulu are creating their own original content, and may view what YouTube is doing as a threat. Netflix will have problems trying to raise prices, said Pendola. Regardless, paid models is the future for online content, he adds.

“I’m not surprised that this is happening. This is really the trend where if you enjoy content, down the line you’re going to pick and choose à la carte what you want to pay for," said Pendola.

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