Would you pay to watch YouTube programming if it didn’t include advertising? The company is betting you will. YouTube this week announced a new paid subscription service that would eliminate ads. The video site, which is owned by Google, is starting a service that would offer commercial-free access for $9.99 per month.
The new channel, YouTube Red, will be available in the United States starting next week, and the company plans to roll it out in other countries beginning in 2016. YouTube also announced an expanded music platform and plans to produce original movies.
YouTube Red would also let subscribers save videos on their computers or smartphones to watch later. Users can also use other apps on their phones to hear what’s playing in any YouTube video, something the YouTube app currently allow.
Old Version Still Free
The service will be available via many of the same venues as YouTube, including desktop, mobile and connected devices. YouTube Red will also be available through the new YouTube Gaming app, the YouTube Kids app and Google Play Music.
The regular version of YouTube, which is funded by commercials, will remain available and free for all users. YouTube has more than 1 billion users worldwide. It's the world’s third-most visited Web site, after Google and Facebook.
With the new service, YouTube is aiming to realize the commercial potential of its product without alienating users who are used to the old version.
We reached out to Jan Rezab, founder and chairman of Socialbakers, a social media marketing and measurement firm based in Prague, to get his thoughts on YouTube's plans.
Rezab told us that putting too much emphasis on competing with platforms other than Facebook might be a mistake for YouTube as it also prepares to take on such music streaming services as Spotify, Pandora and Rdio.
"YouTube should really focus on fixing discovery and adding social connections, even if that means implementing Facebook Connect like most social apps do," said Rezab.
Facing Down Facebook
As it seeks to establish an identity as well as gain customers, YouTube’s main rival will remain Facebook, according to Rezab. Facebook has its own video platform in the works, so that means YouTube will need to either compete directly or find monetized offerings that it can have to itself.
To help ease the way, subscribers to Google Play Music, the audio streaming service of YouTube’s parent company, will automatically receive YouTube Red and vice versa.
YouTube Music is meant to work like a streaming platform, with dedicated channels that show videos of a given artist. The channel would also have an audio-only function for listeners who only want music without video. A test platform YouTube tried earlier this year, YouTube Music Key, showed that most users would like a music-only option.
The new platforms were announced simultaneously at press conferences in New York City and San Francisco. At first, much of the original programming planned by YouTube will focus on content from providers who have become famous on YouTube, such as Lilly Singh, the Canadian comedian and motivational speaker who goes by the YouTube handle Superwoman.
Posted: 2015-10-25 @ 8:18am PT
How does Google define "ad-free?" If it is just display, then this is only the tip of the iceberg. It is the tracking that happens in the background that I want to get rid of.