By Ronald Grover
(Reuters) - Google's YouTube video service is dipping its toe into pay television by starting on Thursday a subscription service with 30 content creators, including children's programmers Sesame Street and Muppet creator The Jim Henson Co, and the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
YouTube, the world's largest video website, allows creators to set subscription fees and accept advertisements, at their discretion, for the channels they create.
Prices for the initial 30 content providers start at 99 cents a month, and will average $2.99 monthly, company officials said in a briefing.
YouTube has spoken repeatedly about its intent to experiment with paid channels, and has made no secret about its intent to be a major player in quality content.
In March, YouTube said on its blog that it has more than 1 billion unique users a month. The new subscription service will be available in 10 countries at launch.
Additional content creators will be added, the officials said, although it isn't immediately clear when. They will be "self-certified" through an application process.
YouTube has spent more than $100 million to help about 150 media partners create and promote specialized YouTube video channels dedicated to topics ranging from food to sports.
The new pay service was announced on the company's blog.
(Reporting by Ronald Grover; Edited by Edwin Chan and Phil Berlowitz)