Wednesday marks an interesting move in the technology world, as media mammoth YouTube has launched YouTube Red, a new ad-free service available for $9.99/month. In addition to ad-free videos, Red subscribers can also exit the app while music is playing, as well as access exclusive content. It’s not YouTube’s first foray into alternate revenue streams, but it’s a big step as they look to compete with paid video services like Hulu and Netflix.
The biggest factor in Red’s success will be in developing their exclusive content. Nearly all the videos on YouTube will be unaffected by Red, but some of the site’s biggest content creators will have videos pulled for Red-only access. Top creators are also being paired with big production budgets and directors, in the hopes they can transition their current name and platform into more developed content.
Here’s what you need to know about Red:
1. Red Launches Today
YouTube Red was announced just last week, but users won’t have to wait long to try it out. The service will be available October 28th in the US, with no timetable announced for international users.
Skeptical users can sign up for a one-month trial period after launch. While that enables users to Red features, it won’t come with the full array of content that comes with a paid subscription. In the coming months YouTube will be releasing original content as well as a YouTube music app, neither of which are currently available.
2. Access Will Cost $9.99 month
After the one month trial, users who subscribe to YouTube Red will be charged $9.99 per month. For that price, users will get numerous exclusive features, as well as access to Red-only content from some of the top YouTubers.
Red users will also have access to Google Play Music for free, and all Google Play members will have full Red access.
3. Users Will Get Exclusive Features
The biggest advantage of YouTube Red will be ad-free viewing. All ads will be removed from before and during all videos, as well as on the site. The Red membership applies across all platforms, including Smart TVs and gaming consoles. Users will also be able to save videos and playlists from YouTube, and have the ability to to watch them offline at a later time.
When watching on your mobile device, Red members will also be able to keep their video playing in the background while using other apps or locking their screen.
4. Popular YouTubers Will Have Members-Only Content
The big step for YouTube will not just be in cleaning up the ads. The major draw will be giving big budgets to some of the site’s tip content creators, and hoping they can create something special. Some of YouTube’s top talent is being paired with big-budget production crews, giving YouTube it’s first truly unique slate of original content.
Of course, it doesn’t come without an ugly side. Any YouTuber that collects checks from YouTube has had to fall in line to Red’s changes. If YouTubers do not agree to put content behind the paywall, YouTube has informed them it will hide their content from public view.
Here’s an excerpt from YouTube’s FAQ page for Youtube partners:
If you choose not to participate in our new paid offerings, you can change your video settings to private to keep videos hosted on YouTube. Though you can always choose whether to host any or all of your videos on YouTube, we strongly believe that any fan who’s willing to pay for a feature like an ads-free experience on YouTube deserves to access the exact same content that exists on the ad-supported site. A paid YouTube offering will give fans a compelling new way to enjoy their favorite content uninterrupted while offering partners a new way to earn revenue from their videos, benefits we feel are overwhelmingly positive for everyone.”
Due to rights issues, ESPN has been forced to remove all of their content.
5. This is Not YouTube’s First Attempt at Paid Content
While this is a major risk for YouTube, it’s not the first time they’ve tried to monetize their product. YouTube has made multiple attempts to bring a premium service to its viewers, in an attempt to compete with Netflix and Hulu. Most recently in 2014, they launched a tip jar system, where viewers could donate to their favorite YouTuber.
The biggest change came in 2013, when YouTube attempted charging users for specific channels. In 2012, YouTube doled out as much as $100 million to names like Madonna, Shaq, and Ashton Kutcher to develop channels for YouTube.