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The online video service is enabling pay-per-view programming, and it could be the nudge professional sports need.

Over the last year, YouTube has let certain content creators and partners run live streaming video on the site. Now, it’s offering a way for those creators and publishers to cash in on their live streams.

YouTube Live partners can now turn their live streams into pay-per-view events. The paid live streaming option is only available in Canada, Japan, France, the United States, and Great Britain for the time being, and YouTube Partners can set different prices for each country. Partners can take advantage of new instream ads as well.

YouTube may hope these steps will help it attract more sports and other major events to YouTube Live, as part of its drive to have more premium, professionally created content.

The site reportedly courted the NHL, NBA and European soccer leagues to show live games on YouTube last year. Perhaps these latest options will be enticing enough for sports leagues to start airing games in the community.

YouTube has been experimenting with pay-to-watch options, including a movie rental section. Its live streams run the gamut from concerts and Muslim ritual Hajj, to New York Fashion Week shows, and even an interview with President Barack Obama.

YouTube launched a few other features for YouTube Live, including live-streaming software and analytics to understand who’s watching the streams.

Though YouTube Live is only available to a small number of partners, the site has plans to make it more widely available. It said, “We’ve developed these features with the expectation many more of you will eventually use YouTube Live, and like we said last year, this process takes time to roll out broadly.”

Photo by jikatu

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