YouTube has been a big part of my life for about 10 years now. I’ve seen just about everything, from a unicorn having his kidney removed by his two sketchy unicorn friends to a man on a mission to avenge his sister get auto-tuned directly into fame, and the massively popular video-sharing website is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
Given YouTube’s nature and massive popularity, it’s no surprise that the service was even more popular on mobile. I’ve been watching YouTube videos on my phone since I owned a Palm Treo Pro (RIP), and ever since then, like many people, I actually ended up preferring to watch YouTube videos on my phone rather than on the web.
But regardless of where you prefer to watch YouTube, the service is continuously making improvements – and sometimes the opposite – to change the way we create, share, and view YouTube’s media content.
One of the big changes that has made its way to YouTube over the past few years has been “skippable” advertisements, which would appear before a user started watching the video. Most ads are able to be skipped over after just a few seconds. Ad banners that pop up throughout the video can be exited if you have good hand-eye coordination and you manage to hit the miniscule 'x' that appears in the corner of the ad. Although one of the most minor inconveniences known to mankind, we've already had a taste of what life is like without advertisements and commercials interrupting the main content. Not only did YouTube operate without embedded advertisements at one point, but we also have paid services like Netflix and Spotify, which can get rid of annoyances like commercials for a nominal monthly fee that people are often all too happy to pay.
So it kind of makes sense that YouTube would take the same route by offering YouTube Red - questionable choice in name, by the way - a $9.99 monthly subscription that basically adds highly requested features that YouTube users have asked for over the years, one of which is to remove advertisements.
But the $9.99 fee covers much more than that. Another inconvenience that has plagued YouTube over the years has been the inability to play the music from YouTube videos in the background on mobile. Although YouTube is a great way to view videos, it has also become a major platform for musical artists, and not everybody wants to watch a video or waste precious battery life on screen time for a song they only want to listen to. YouTube Red finally offers this service (although I had always hoped it would just be a free feature).
Another benefit of YouTube Red is saving videos for offline playback later. Much like streaming music apps have offered for a couple of years now, YouTube is bringing the service to video – something that even our beloved Netflix has yet to do. Now you can stock up your mobile gadgets with your favorite videos (or a good “must watch” playlist) for when you have no way to stream them.
YouTube will also start offering “YouTube Originals”, which seems like it would work much like HBO, Netflix, and Amazon original series offerings.
Arguably the best feature of YouTube Red is that it’s included with Google Play Music All Access. If you already use Google Play Music All Access for your music streaming, you get the benefit of YouTube Red at no extra charge.
YouTube Red seems like a good buy for consumers when you look at everything that’s included in the price. especially considering that the free YouTube with ads that we already use will still be available (although apparently YouTube Partners – content creators who are paid to contribute to YouTube – who have opted not to sign a YouTube Red contract will have all of their videos privatized, which seems wrong). With the bonus of being subscribed to Google Play Music All Access as well, Google has really pulled out the stops with this new service.
One question that remains is whether YouTube Red will be a part of the Google Play Music All Access upcoming family plan, a $14.99 plan that allows up to six users to have access to the service each month. This plan was unveiled shortly after Apple Music initially offered this well-priced alternative to the $9.99 individual subscription, so the two will be evenly matched if Google just leaves it at that – but I highly doubt that will be the case.
I recently wrote an article about Apple Music explaining how the 3-month free trial and my need to “give it a fair shot” eventually suckered me in with the competitive family plan pricing, despite the fact that Apple Music’s interface isn’t the most user-friendly. However, if YouTube Red comes with Google Play Music All Access (they really need a catchier name for this, too) family plan, then I’m definitely dumping Apple Music for it. I’m all about getting the most for my money, and Google’s latest venture goes above and beyond my expectations for what constitutes as a good value.
Important side notes: Those who have had the $7.99 early access pricing for Google Play Music All Access get to keep this plan, and apparently also get to partake in the free 1-month trial. The free 1-month trial of this new service begins on October 28th for anybody (in the U.S.) who is interested.
Readers, what are your thoughts on YouTube Red? Do you think it’s worth a subscription? Will it make you switch to Google Play Music All Access? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!