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Love YouTube but hate ads?
Some might say just use Vimeo. Poll 10 creatives and they'll have their own opinions on which service works better. But there is no question not being bombarded by ads is a nicer way to watch videos. These things need to be paid for somehow, and Vimeo does this in part with paid subscriptions (each of which have their own perks above a free account). YouTube Red is going to be Google's solution to that problem beyond advertisements.
For $10 a month, you'll be able to watch basically every video on YouTube ad-free. That might seem like a lot (and personally I think it is just for that privilege), but you're getting much more, including exclusive original series and movies from YouTube stars, as well as YouTube Music, which is explained in the videos below.
Here's more from YouTube themselves on the new service:
On October 28, we’re giving fans exactly what they want. Introducing YouTube Red -- a new membership designed to provide you with the ultimate YouTube experience.
YouTube Red lets you enjoy videos across all of YouTube without ads, while also letting you save videos to watch offline on your phone or tablet and play videos in the background, all for $9.99 a month. Your membership extends across devices and anywhere you sign into YouTube, including our recently launched Gaming app and a brand new YouTube Music app we’re announcing today that will be available soon.
YouTube Music is designed to make discovering, watching and listening to music easier than ever. Any song or artist you choose on YouTube Music will start you on a personal journey through one of the richest music catalogs; just sign in, tap a track you love, and see where your music takes you. And as a special bonus - YouTube Red works with Google Play Music, so subscribe to one and automatically get access to the other.
And starting early next year, YouTube Red will get even better with member-only access to new, original shows and movies from some of YouTube’s biggest creators. You can read all about Originals coming to YouTube Red here.
The Verge has done a tremendous job with their coverage, and explained this in exceptional detail:
This is just some of the new exclusive content:
- Scare PewDiePie: In this reality-adventure series from the creator and executive producers of The Walking Dead at Skybound Entertainment and Maker Studios, experience thrills, chills and laughter as PewDiePie encounters terrifying situations inspired by his favorite video games.
- Sing It!: From Fine Brothers Entertainment and Mandeville Films comes SING IT!, a scripted comedy that lovingly satirizes the reality singing competitions that have become a centerpiece of pop culture.
- Lazer Team: In this feature-length action-comedy from Rooster Teeth and Fullscreen Films, four small-town losers stumble upon an alien ship carrying a mysterious cargo, leading to a battle to save Earth from an all-powerful enemy.
- A Trip to Unicorn Island: From the team at Astronauts Wanted, this feature-length movie gives fans an extraordinary look inside the life and journey of Lilly Singh as she embarks on a challenging 26-city global tour where she has to remember to practice what she preaches: happiness is the only thing worth fighting for.
- Untitled Joey Graceffa project: In this all-new reality adventure series, Joey Graceffa brings together an ensemble of top YouTubers for a murder mystery they'll never forget. They'll form alliances to survive, but little do they know that most won't make it out alive.
- 360 Project from MatPat of Game Theory: YouTube educator and pop culture expert MatPat from The Game Theorists invites the audience to come along for the ride in an innovative new series and 360 VR experience. In each episode Matt explores the real-life science behind popular video games by throwing gamers into the high-stakes scenarios they play through every day, from water jetpacks to haunted pizzerias.
- Single by 30: In this romantic drama series from Wong Fu Productions and New Form Digital, two high school best friends make a promise to get married if they’re still single at 30. A decade later, with 30 quickly approaching, their attempt at upholding their vow unfolds in unexpected ways. Starring Harry Shum, Jr. and Kina Grannis.
- Untitled CollegeHumor project: Written by and starring the cast of CollegeHumor, along with special guests, this new anthology series will take a dark and comedic look at the absurdity of Internet culture.
- Fight of the Living Dead: In an unprecedented social experiment reality show from Alpine Labs, Fight of the Living Dead takes popular YouTube talent and traps them in a frighteningly realistic zombie apocalypse. They must use their instincts and gaming skills to survive as they battle the elements for the ultimate prize of survival.
- I Am Tobuscus: From the mind of Toby Turner, this scripted comedy explores the world of a self-involved YouTube creator pursuing bigger stardom. The show features original music, and satirizes the hilarious details of being an eccentric, new-age celebrity.
And here are some hands on with YouTube Red and YouTube Music:
Background play is interesting, and it is nice that you can download the videos for playing later offline, but I can already do that with the free videos (and I don't need to pay $10 a month). Unless YouTube figures out a way to block these services, I don't see the download option as being a big enough draw on its own.
Google's defense to advertisers is that they won't really be affecting the hundreds of millions of users who will continue to watch the videos with ads. The service still brings in $5 billion in revenue just from ads, so their core business will not just move away from that overnight. This all sounds great in theory, but nothing Google has done so far has worked to get users to pay for content. Some of that might have to do with the random way they put together their previous efforts, but their own version of Tip Jar and Paid Channels have been complete failures. This time, however, the people at YouTube think they have a better handle on their audience.
YouTube Red (not to be confused with RedTube — which would be an unfortunate search mistake to make in a public place) won't exactly be going head-to-head against the likes of Amazon and Netflix. While they have a lot of money at their disposal, they're utilizing the creators who already have a huge fanbase, and giving them the option to create exclusive content just for YouTube Red. I see some issues with this being at the forefront of their model.
Creating a video for YouTube, and creating something for a paid service are two very, very different things. When people start paying for something, they expect better quality, and they want more content for their money. Can these YouTube stars push out better content than what people are already getting for free? If that means longer-form content, very few have proven that they can sustain a more general audience for extended periods of time — and it's that general audience that YouTube needs to attract in order for Red to work.
Another huge factor is going to be the audience YouTube is aiming at. There is no question the service skews a bit younger with a lot of its most popular content, but will parents be willing to fork over $10 a month when they're already paying for movie channels and Netflix? Certainly some older users who've grown up with these "brands" may stick with them, but as people age, so do their tastes, and it will be interesting to see if users will stick around and continue following many of these stars if their content doesn't mature (since so much of this exclusive content seems to be comedy-based).
A big part of this push is to keep content creators at YouTube, but if videos on the new paid service debut to low numbers, creators won't be getting the same attention and instant gratification they once did. Will they want to move back to the freebie model if they aren't making much more money and aren't getting the same attention they once were? At the end of the day, they want to keep these creators at YouTube, and they'll probably bend over backwards to do it.
Unfortunately this doesn't look like it will have any benefits for the average independent filmmaker. YouTube seems to be targeting only those who already have a following on YouTube, rather than those with the highest quality content. That's not to say there aren't creators making higher production value content, but the vast majority are done on the lowest of budgets, and when you compare that to the original content on Netflix or Amazon, it really shows.
YouTube could take this opportunity to pull some of the better filmmakers on the web into their exclusive fold, but they seem to be looking more for numbers rather than just prestige. There is something to be said for winning awards and what that can do for the recognition of a service, but for now at least, YouTube doesn't seem to be trying to make the next House of Cards, instead mostly relying on their own stars to produce longer-form content at a fraction of the cost.
You'll be able to try YouTube Red for one month free starting the 28th, as long as you live in the US. YouTube Music will be coming later. If you're outside the US, it will likely take a bit longer to work out territorial rights issues. Either way, a free trial is important to see if YouTube Red will significantly change your viewing experience.
YouTube hasn't had much work with getting people to pay for content in the past, so they've certainly got their work cut out for them with this newest venture.