YouTube Red is YouTube’s new subscription service. For $10 a month, you can browse videos without ads, download videos and play them offline or in the background for smartphones. YouTube Red advertises itself as a model for paying content producers and musicians while also benefiting the users. The subscription is entirely optional, and for now there’s no subscriber-exclusive content — which really doesn’t prompt me to want to purchase a subscription anytime soon.
I’ve been on the YouTube Red free trial for a week now, and I haven’t noticed any real differences between it and standard YouTube. Bypassing those five seconds I had to wait to skip through an ad doesn’t feel worth $10 a month. Supposedly it’s all going to help content producers receive more money for what they do, but we really don’t know how big of a difference this is going to make.
Ad-based revenue is not the best model for most small-time/independent creators, as about every 1,000 views equates to only $2. Many resort to partnerships with other companies or advertising products within their videos. However, the best way to help content producers is through crowdfunding with websites like Kickstarter or Patreon. These essentially cut out the middle man and typically have their own kind of perks associated with the creator. While I prefer this method of funding, not all creators resort to it. I like the idea of my favorite YouTubers getting rewarded for what they do, but I have no idea how much of that $10 fee is contributed to supporting them.
Really, the future of this model is dependent on how many users see a difference with the subscription. We don’t really know what the future of YouTube Red holds. YouTube has an audience of more than one billion. If even one percent purchase the subscription, that’s hundreds of millions of dollars. At the moment it’s impossible to gather how many people are actually signed up for YouTube Red, as we’re still in the trial period for this month. By next year we’ll have a better idea of how many people are really signed up for the subscription.
For now, I don’t see a benefit to purchasing a YouTube Red subscription. But that doesn’t necessarily mean YouTube Red is defunct. My guess is that Google will spice the subscription up with movies and other exclusive content. Ad-free browsing for $10 a month is not exactly attractive. Why spend that much when I could watch a month’s worth of movies for $2 less? To improve the deal, YouTube Red is undoubtedly going to implement some kind of movie streaming service. Movies are already available on YouTube — they just cost $2 to $5 to “rent.” It’s not implemented at the moment. But this is because with the millions of people on YouTube Red under a free trial, it would just be a huge waste of money for Google. I bet that in 2016 Youtube Red is going to have a movie streaming service.
So save your free trials for now. They may come in handy next year.