Yesterday, the official YouTube blog (that none of us ever knew existed) announced the launch of YouTube Red, a premium, membership-based service for people who really love Internet video.
But what is it? What is it really? Let’s investigate the ins and outs of this mysterious new offering, and let’s do it Q&A Style.
Question 1: So, wait, this costs money?
Answer: That’s right—it’s $9.99 per month.
Question 2: What do I get for my money? More cat videos? Do I get to jump into the Internet and participate in my favorite videos, like with the Swedish dude PewDiePie? Do I get to—
Answer: Hey, calm down! CALM THE HELL DOWN! Listen, I’m going to give it to you straight from the horse’s mouth. Here’s what Matt Leske, Senior Project Manager, has to say:
With a YouTube Red membership, you’ll experience YouTube without video ads, be able to save videos to watch offline, and play videos in the background on your mobile device, all for $9.99 a month. And just like with our advertising revenue, the majority of revenue we get from YouTube Red memberships will go to our creator community.
Question 3: That’s it?
Answer: No! He wasn’t finished!
Starting early next year, YouTube Red will get even better with access to new, original series and movies from some of your favorite creators.
Question 4: Oooh, tell me about these original series!
Answer: You can see the full rundown here, but be warned that it’s all pretty vague at the moment, as you can see from descriptions like these:
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.
That being said, there’s going to be something from PewDiePie himself, a thing where YouTube stars are placed in a zombie apocalypse and told to fend for themselves (yeah, seriously), a romantic drama, an alien thing, a Glee knock-off, and a YouTube version of a murder mystery dinner. So, if any of that appeals to you…
Question 5: Where can I access all this stuff? Just from a computer? Surely it doesn’t work on phones.
Answer: Surely you are mistaken!
Your Red membership works anywhere you sign into YouTube, whether it’s across mobile devices, desktop, connected TVs, or on our recently launched Gaming app or our upcoming Music app. And as a special bonus, YouTube Red comes with Google Play Music, so subscribe to one and automatically get access to the other.
Question 6: Are they trying to become the next Hulu/Netflix/Prime?
Answer: Probably? That seems to be the ceiling for this project, and the ultimate direction they’ll be moving in.
Question 7: Okay, let’s get serious. I’m not paying for this. How are they going to screw me on normal YouTube in order to coerce me into opening my change purse? Will videos disappear, or will I click on something I want to watch only for YouTube to be like, “hey valued customer, you can watch this right now if you just pay us 10 bucks!”
Answer: You have a change purse?
To answer your question, no—I contacted a Google rep to ask this exact question, and the rep was adamant about the fact that nothing is changing on YouTube. All the usual videos will remain free, along with new uploads and etc. Only the bonus content listed above will be YouTube Red-only.
Question 8: What about ads? Are they going to make those even more annoying now so that I’ll have to pay?
Answer: According to that same Google rep, no—there will be no change in how ads work on free YouTube.
Question 9: If I do buy this, will I have to watch free content on normal YouTube and premium content on YouTube Red, forcing me to switch awkwardly back and forth?
Answer: No—all content that is on free YouTube is also behind the paywall. Just like public schools in 31 states in our country, there will be no switching. (Sorry, that was a really labored joke…free points to anyone who comes up with something better in the comments.)
Question 10: I’m not so sure about this—can I try it out for free before I commit?
Answer: Yes! There’s a free 30-day trial offer at the official site.
Question 11: Will this inevitably eclipse HBO Go in terms of password sharing?
Answer: Not unless you want to give people your gmail password! (Hint: Don’t do that.)
Question 12: Okay, I think I get the picture. Now I want some EXPERT analysis—is this worth $120/year?
Answer: I’ll give you a couple answers. For me? Absolutely not. I don’t use YouTube enough to be more than a little annoyed by the ads, and at the moment the so-called “original series” aren’t nearly enticing enough to get me to work over the cash. I also don’t create a ton of videos, or feel a huge need to watch videos offline or listen to them on mobile devices with the screen off. As far as I’m concerned, it’s not nearly as exciting as something like Prime/Netflix/Hulu, to whom I gladly fork over $$ each month in order to be constantly entertained.
However! I am not the target audience here. If you’re someone who uses YouTube a lot, is involved in the creator community making videos about what a huge pain your mom can be, loves PewDiePie, and feels suicidal each time you wait 30 seconds for an annoying ad with violin music about a stupid computer watch, this is probably right up your alley.
Man, that sounded condescending. I apologize. I recognize and value the YouTube culture that exists in the world, and seriously, this looks like a good deal for high-volume users. The great thing about the plan for YouTube itself is that they’ll probably generate a decent amount of revenue from Red, but will still have a massive free user base, meaning their ad dollars should be justtttt fine. Smart.
Question 13: Oh hey, why is it called “Red”?
Answer: Great question! Here’s a YouTube exec in his own Q&A:
“Choosing a name for a product is a challenging thing,” a YouTube executive said in a press Q&A session. “As we talked to users and fans in our studies, the term ‘red’ is often associated with YouTube. It has a lot of meaning in terms of love and the red carpet.”
Question 14: Are they worried about the fact that “RedTube” is a porn site?
Answer: Apparently not! From that same exec:
“We’re not too worried about that other site.”
Question 15: Anything else I should know.
Answer: One more thing—the price on iOS is $3 more expensive. Apple apparently charges a premium fee, and YouTube’s all like, “hell if we’re paying that.” So they pass it on to you, the customer. That’s capitalism, baby!