This week the rumor mill has been working overtime with chatter about a new paid channel initiative on YouTube. Well folks, the rumors are true–today, according to the YouTube blog, the video site has launched “a pilot program for a small group of partners that will offer paid channels on YouTube with subscription fees starting at $0.99 per month.”

Today 53 paid channels have launched, including content from UFC, PGA, Jim Henson Family TV and others, and over the coming weeks more paid channels will be rolled out as YouTube broadens the program.

The YouTube Team explains how the subscription channels will work:

“Every channel has a 14-day free trial, and many offer discounted yearly rates.  For example, Sesame Street will be offering full episodes on their paid channel when it launches. And UFC fans can see classic fights, like a full version of their first event from UFC’s new channel. You might run into more of these channels across YouTube, or look here for a list of pilot channels. Once you subscribe from a computer, you’ll be able to watch paid channels on your computer, phone, tablet and TV, and soon you’ll be abele to subscribe to them from more devices.”

This is cool and all, but the real question on most creators’ minds is, “when am I going to be able to charge for my content?”  According to the YouTube blog, the answer may be sooner than you think. “We’ll be rolling paid channels out more broadly in the coming weeks as a self-service feature for qualifying partners.”  Partners interested in signing up for paid channels are invited to nominate their channel here.  If you want to be considered, you’ll have to include your full name, email, info about your current channel and details on what sort of content you’d offer on your paid channel.

While putting a pay wall up in front of all your content probably isn’t a great idea in terms of growing your audience and getting your content in front of the masses, I think we’ll see the idea of offering “more” for a nominal fee take off.

The YouTube Team writes, “Just as the partner program empowered creators to take their channels to the next level, we look forward to seeing how this great community of creators moves ahead with a new way to reach the fan communities that made their channels a hit. You’ll be hearing more from us, and them, as we get creator and user feedback and build out this exciting offering.”

What do you think of YouTube’s new paid channels? Are there any you’d subscribe to? Will you be signing up to create a paid channel of your own?