YouTube Red – a week in review

YouTube logo

I had to spend some serious time with YouTube Red to really get a valid opinion. So a week of deep diving and usage and here is my review and opinions.  The first thing I had to take into account was how much do the ads really bother me?  Honestly I am so used to them since the start I ignore them.  Even the additions of cards, links and other monetization doesn’t dissuade me and the masses from watching.

With YouTube Red you enter a world of

Ad-free videos whenever you sign in to YouTube or a YouTube app—on your mobile device, desktop, or enabled TV. Take your videos on your commute or your next trip. Relax or rock out to your music without listening to ads. Watch what you want, whenever you want.

Now in theory that sounds great. But most YouTube videos are about 4 minutes and I am always connected when it is important.  I do not see myself worrying about 4 minute videos when on a plane.  I have movies and other media for that.  Heck they really do not even have an official YouTube Red logo yet.

Membership

I was slightly shocked at the $9.99/month fee (even with the free trial period) for YouTube Red.  While I may “Keep supporting artists and the people who make your favorite videos, even while watching without video ads” I am sure most are making a ton of money off of ads already. How is my $9.99 subscription paid across the content creators? Number of views? Downloads? Subscribers?  What if I watch if offline 400 times, do they get more? I see a big flaw in this model if they are losing ad revenue.

An added bonus is that you get Google Play Music subscription at no additional cost.  If you have a huge library there then the bundle is worth it. If you have Google Play Music already you now get YouTube Red.  A definite win. The same in reverse.  So how many of you would dump iTunes or other streaming service like Spotify to redo your entire library into Google Play Music? Not many. Ever. You get in that rut and never want to leave. It is the struggle of the process.  Like moving from one photo sharing service to another.  I take the ups and downs of Flickr rather than move gigs of sorted, tagged, geotagged and commented photos.

Google Payment setupPayment is done via a Google Payment account, so you will have to establish one if you have never done so before.  It uses whatever Google account you are currently signed in under.  Make sure you are on the right one that you will also use across all your devices.

Background playing is controversial to me at best. If it is YouTube then I am watching something.  I know a few people that actually made awesome music playlists on YouTube and play it while doing whatever. The videos mean nothing to them.  For other content you are on YouTube for the content.  YouTube Red doesn’t add much value to me there.  I want to watch YouTube.  It is not really a music service to me.  It is a video service.

Offline viewing gets the same result from me. A giant Meh.  They have some interesting terms of service about where and when you can download and use offline videos. I guess video rights vary in other countries? Make sure you download them before leaving the US even with a YouTube Red subscription.

YouTube Red is available in the U.S. If you leave the U.S., you won’t be able to save videos offline, videos won’t play in the background, and you will see ads. Any videos that you’ve saved offline before leaving the U.S., will continue to be available offline for 30 days.

I also tend to watch related videos as I go along. So that becomes unavailable as well when you watch offline. There is no more video surfing which generates views and new interests. I am not sure that is taken into account for this.  I may also like the content creator so much I want to scroll their channel. Offline once again is not helpful here.

Subscribers will also get access to exclusive content. This means paid content producers and original content found only on YouTube Red.  Online video viewers already know that Hulu and Netflix offer the same setup for subscribers. The idea being that it is a huge draw to gain subscribers.  In some shows it is like Orange is the new Black as an example.  We will have to see what kicks off in January on YouTube Red to make that decision.

The Flipside

YouTube has always been free and we just expect the ads. It is like our local Riverfront Times paper that comes out weekly.  You love the local and edgy content but know it is chocked full of ads to pay for it.  You will live with it.  I have always disliked Hulu for ads even though I pay.  But they balanced that with offering more content to you than free. They now have ad free. Once again I am so used to the ads I use them top get a quick drink or bathroom break and it only adds like a few minutes of total watching time. YouTube rarely had that issue as ads overlayed the screen more than the wait five seconds to skip.

My Opinion

I will not continue my subscription past the trial period until I see the exclusive content. I did not get the overall benefit or use most of it.  I never kept thinking I should download a video for offline viewing. I rarely use Google Play Music and often forget about it. I am so used to ads in YouTube videos now that I actually was waiting with my mouse to click the little X the first couple days. I didn’t breathe a sigh of relief when I was able to not wait 5 seconds before skipping a pre-roll advertisement. It just was not there for me as anything quantifiable.

I would like more clarity on how artists and content producers get paid in the long run after they ramp up and push more premium paid content.

YouTube currently gives content creators 55 percent of the advertising revenue on their videos, and the company says it will give YouTube Red partners a majority of the subscription revenue they bring in.

I do not agree with the complaints of some content producers since you have been using a free platform and getting a percentage of ad revenue only. YouTube has always made money and we were lucky to be able to cash in just by being ourselves. What if they went all ad based and kept all that money and only gave us revenue based on subscriptions to our channels? Nothing can stop them from doing so. Would that destroy YouTube? No. Would it make content creators look for free platforms to monetize on? Sure.  But who would walk away from tens of thousands of subscribers. Not many.

So we kick back and wait till January 2016 and I bet some online ads to show us what we will want to subscribe for. I am game to redo my subscription for sure if the content is right.