At an event in Los Angeles, YouTube unveiled its newest offering, a subscription service called YouTube Red. For $9.99 a month subscribers get to watch videos ad-free, save videos to watch offline, and keep videos running in the background while they use other apps or power down their screen. Subscribers also get access to YouTube’s existing streaming music service, Play Music. Last but not least, YouTube is creating a bunch of new “Original” series that you can only watch behind the paywall.
Watching YouTube without ads is pretty much the same, just faster and nicer. It’s like driving without speed limits. You can click an “offline” icon next to any video and save it for watching when you don’t have a data connection. YouTube lets you choose what quality you want to save the video at, since these files take up a lot more room than music.
Background is very helpful. Many times I have been half-watching, half-listening to music on YouTube and had to pause it while I click over to write an email or answer a text. This new feature lets the video play while you’re multitasking, or while the phone is screen is off.
The Originals all feature native YouTube talent like PewDiePie, Lilly Singh, and The Fine Brothers. Back in 2012, YouTube spent over $100 million to launch a big slate of “original” channels, but many of them were helmed by talent from traditional media. By and large those were a flop, especially when compared with the success of channels run by native YouTubers. So this time Originals will focus on people who are already stars on YouTube, but will connect them with traditional talent from Hollywood and television, all backed up with a generous helping of new funding. It’s hoping these shows will be the must-see programming that will get people to shell out $9.99 a month, the same way they would for Netflix or Hulu.
YouTube Red also works in combination with the company’s new music app, which is coming out around the end of this year. If you have Red, Youtube Music will let you toggle seamlessly between video or audio only on a stream and create offline playlists. Plus, a subscription to Red gives you access Google Play Music and vice versa. That means for $9.99 a month you get music from pretty good streaming service plus all of YouTube’s content ad-free and offline, the same price you would pay for Apple Music or Spotify.