On October 28, YouTube is launching YouTube Red, a new membership scheme which the company is heralding as the ultimate YouTube experience. At a cost of $9.99 a month, a YouTube Red subscription allows users to watch videos without ads. It also enables users to save videos to be watched offline on a phone or tablet and to play videos in the background.
The YouTube Red membership extends across devices to anywhere a user signs into YouTube, including the recently launched Gaming app. YouTube has also announced a new Music app to make it easier for users to discover, watch and listen to music.
YouTube Red will also work with Google Play Music so subscribers to one service will automatically get access to the other. In addition, from 2016 YouTube Red will be offering members-only access to new, original shows and movies from some of YouTube’s biggest creators.
The advertisement-supported version of YouTube along with the YouTube Kids, Gaming and Music apps will continue to be available free of charge to non-subscribers.
The reaction from the YouTube community has been mixed. Disney’s sports network ESPN announced that it has pulled all of its content from YouTube due to the YouTube Red subscription service, with the network stating that “rights and legal issues” prevent it from being part of YouTube Red at launch. At the time of writing, the Meet YouTube Red video on the YouTube Spotlight Channel had over 16,000 thumbs down and only 4000 likes with a lively debate taking place in the comments section.
Some content creators have expressed concern about a reduction in income if subscribers can watch their videos advertisement-free. The company has attempted to allay these fears in the YouTube Red FAQ, stating that YouTube Red will provide a secondary revenue stream for creators in addition to their earnings from advertisements. A proportion of the YouTube Red membership fees will be distributed to video creators based on how much members watch content — including offline watch time — with YouTube claiming that the majority of the revenue will go to creators.
YouTube Red is initially only being launched in the United States with no commitment to roll it out to a wider audience other than to state that the service will be “introduced to other major markets over the course of the next year.”
Internet users in the U.S. can try YouTube Red for free with a one month trial.