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YouTube Red – To subscribe or not to subscribe?

28 October 2015

YouTube adverts – the annoyingly-persistent enemy of every online video viewer. Most would love to see the end of them, but at what cost? YouTube launched their YouTube Red service today and answered that question for us – $9.99 a month.

The Best Things in Life Are Were Free

YouTube versions comparison

YouTube versions comparison

For 10 years YouTube has been free to all comers, though with some channels offering their own subscription models. But now YouTube has presented us with their own paid service – YouTube Red. It’s being touted as the “ultimate YouTube experience”. Features include:

  • Ad-free videos
  • The ability to save video content for offline viewing
  • You will be able to switch apps while your YouTube content still plays in the background
  • Your subscription is valid across all devices, from your smart TV and desktop PC, to your mobile devices. Except for iOS users, who will have to fork out $12.99 for the official app.
  • Free access to Google Play Music. If you’re already a Google Play Music subscriber, you will receive access to YouTube Red at no added cost.
  • I did mention ad-free videos right?
  • Original content only available to YouTube Red subscribers, from creators such as PewDiePie, This shows YouTube’s intent to offer competition to online video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu.

It launched today in the US (a 1-month free trial is on offer), with dates still to be announced when other countries will gain access. This is slightly bizarre considering over 80% of all YouTube views come from outside the US, but it could be done as a means of testing the service first before rolling it out to the rest of the world.

Why give YouTubers the ability to skip advertising? In 2013 a company named MetrixLab conducted a survey and found that 94% of people skipped pre-roll adverts. Though the ability to skip adverts has forced ad agencies to create more engaging adverts that people don’t want to skip, most  viewers aren’t keen on watching any form of advertising (including myself).

YouTube Stats

Quick History of YouTube Advertising

Though YouTube launched in 2005, adverts first appeared in August 2007. They were overlaid in the bottom 20% of the video window, started playing a few seconds into whichever video you were viewing, and disappeared after a few seconds. Not too instrusive then.

In 2009 adverts pre-roll adverts were introduced, displaying before your video even started playing. You had to wait 30 seconds for the advert to finish and only then could you watch your preferred content (thankfully this was shortened to 15 seconds later that year, and eventually to 5 seconds). Later they introduced skippable ads.

Partners Pay Too

The YouTube Partner Program is a way for creators to monetise their content by having YouTube run adverts on their videos. You can also rent or sell your content if you’re a Partner.

Now these content creators are in a bit of a bind, as they were required to sign a new revenue share deal for YouTube Red, or their content would be set to “private” on both YouTube Red as well as regular ad-populated YouTube, essentially cutting them off from ad income. YouTube has stated though that the majority of revenue generated from their YouTube Red content will be paid to the creators (55%).

YouTube Red already has a host of companies signed up with the new service, though some major brands like ESPN are crippled by other agreements and were forced to remove their content from their official YouTube channel, but to be distributed across other mediums for now. Other Partners who have yet to decide what they want to do, will have their videos set to private and will receive no ad income. For more information, consult the Parter Program FAQ.

Regular (non-Partner) creators will still be able to upload their videos, and be visible to all.

Closing Thoughts

The positives here are that with one subscription, you will gain access to a platform that offers the same music service like Spotify, and eventually a video service comparable to Netflix and Hulu. And for those who aren’t keen on paying for another service, don’t worry too much as 99% of YouTube will still contain similar content to what it previously did – cats and people falling over various obstacles.

Except for content creators having an added expense, the negatives remain to be seen. Barring the Originals series of video content, we’re not sure what be placed behind a paywall. Not that we’ll be able to see for ourselves, because:

Coming Soon