A closer look at YouTube Red – the video sharing site’s add-free subscription service

On 28th October 2015, YouTube launched an add-free subscription service in order to meet the demands of its viewers. Simply called YouTube Red and costing $9.99 a month, the service has been designed to provide viewers with “exactly what they want,” which includes no advertisements, offline viewing capabilities, and background play.

Although it is currently only available in the US, YouTube Red should be on offer in other locations soon. However, concerns have already been raised among publishers about its revenue share deal, with some creators already pulling their content from the site. So, with this in mind, here is a closer look at YouTube Red and what it could mean for both users and creators.

YouTube Red for everyday users

The main reasons for users to purchase YouTube Red include:

  • Ad-free videos – Videos on the desktop site and mobile app as well as Smart TVs and gaming consoles can be viewed without interruption
  • Save offline – Videos and playlists can be saved and watched via the YouTube app when you aren’t connected to the Internet
  • Background play – Videos can still be played on your mobile device while other apps are open or when the screen is off

What’s more, YouTube Red users will also gain access to Google Play Music at no additional cost. Existing Google Play Music subscribers will automatically have access to YouTube Red too as long as they are signed in on the same account.

Seeing as YouTube has plans to commission original content for its ad-free platform, it could soon be in direct competition with on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon Prime. However, prominent publishers like PewDiePie and College Humor have also announced plans to launch original content on the service in 2016.

YouTube Red for creators

At its launch event, chief business officer Robert Kyncl said that YouTube Red would pay out “the vast, vast majority of revenue” to creators that become partners on the service, but repeatedly refused to reveal what this percentage would be.

However, a more concerning aspect of YouTube Red is that any partner creator who earns a cut of ad revenue but doesn’t agree to sign its revenue share deal will have their videos hidden from public view on both the ad-supported and ad-free tiers. Even though this agreement could see creators earn more from paid subscribers than ad revenue alone, it has been described as bullying by some.

Even so, Kyncl went on to add that 99 per cent of content consumed on YouTube would still be available, as most creators had signed the deal. But faced with the prospect of losing out on the previous ad revenue, the new subscription revenue, and their connection with audiences, these creators didn’t have much choice.

Nevertheless, ESPN recently had to remove all of its videos from all versions of YouTube in the US because other contracts prevent it from being on subscription services. So, while YouTube Red could offer creators more revenue per user, they will seemingly lose a lot of control over their content.

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