Millions of people across the world use it every day—from teachers, to business employees, young children, and probably even your own friends, family and fellow classmates. Since February 2005, YouTube has become a worldwide source of online videos to people for the purposes of education, entertainment, business practices, adorable kittens, personal moments, music, and is even a career for many content creators. For a decade, a majority of this content has been free for anyone to access at any time with the power of the internet, but like many businesses, shake-ups and large changes are bound to happen.
On Oct. 21, 2015, Google unveiled a new subscription service to offer to its audience: YouTube Red. YouTube Red offers a number of exclusive features, such as ad-free video streaming, the ability to download videos onto mobile device to watch offline, and access to exclusive videos. These include online web shows from popular YouTube content creators such as PewDiePie and groups like CollegeHumor.
Originally, Google tested its first subscription-based service called Music Key, which worked similarly with the removal of ads and was tied in with both YouTube and Google Play Music in its invite-only beta, but ended upon Red’s announcement. For YouTube Red, users can purchase a subscription for a fee of $9.99 per month, but Google has offered a free one month trial for anyone interested as of Oct. 28, 2015.
While Google reassures users that nothing is changing about YouTube and that all usual videos as well as new uploads will remain free, there are still concerns to consider with the arrival of YouTube Red. One of the biggest concerns is if the value is truly worth the cost of each month. After all, with popular applications such as Adblock Plus and many anti-virus programs including ad blocker extensions, it isn’t difficult for people to avoid annoying advertisements in their YouTube experience.
“When I am watching YouTube from my computer, I always have Ad Block on,” said Emily Finck, senior English major; “Ads don’t bother me in the least, but pop-ups aggravate me to no end.”
Upon closer inspection, YouTube’s offline playback of videos also isn’t quite as marvelous as it sounds. According to Google’s Support page on YouTube Red, saved videos and playlists can only be played offline without reconnection for 30 days. Additionally, if a saved video is deleted or removed from YouTube’s database due to copyright or policy violations, you will lose that video upon reconnection to YouTube. Google also adds that “Live streams and content from paid channels and videos, movies or TV shows can’t be saved offline.”
“I already get what I need from YouTube, so it doesn’t really appeal to me,” said Gabriel Riddle, sophomore Accounting major; “I don’t exactly have money to drop on a $9.99 subscription. But I do see where the appeal in it is for other people, it’s just not something for me.”
Other concerns with YouTube Red is how it affects some YouTube content creators and how it affects those outside of the United States. Google announced that YouTube Red is currently only available in America, which has caused certain videos uploaded from outside of the country to be blocked from watching outside of their country of origin.
Many YouTube content creators also rely heavily on ad-revenue from their viewers, and if YouTube is taking away that ad-revenue with their own profit of YouTube Red, how are the content creators supposed to deal with their loss of revenue and Google’s control of it? After all, according to an article from Fortune, content creators are forced to agree to YouTube’s new terms of service regarding Red, otherwise their videos will be set to private with viewers unable to watch them.
This lack of specific information leaves a lack of trust from not only YouTube content creators, but YouTube users as well. It’s clear that Google is jumping onto the video streaming subscription bandwagon in attempts to compete with popular contenders such as Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon Video, but can YouTube Red become a successful service for its consumer base to embrace?
“I would think it’s a 50/50 chance because YouTube covers nearly every subject of all sorts of videos that you can find on YouTube, but can’t find on Netflix,” said Hana Lee, sophomore Multimedia Management major.
“I don’t think it’s going to be able to compete effectively with Netflix. It might be able to compete with Hulu simply because Hulu still has advertisements even if you pay for it,” said Alexander Sedam, junior Computer Science major. “It’ll have to evolve into its own thing. I don’t think it’ll ever be able to compete in size with the well-established things that people already have subscriptions for.”
In its early stages, the future for YouTube Red remains uncertain, but it seems that it will undoubtedly need adjustments and additions to appeal to a wide audience, as well for Google to work efficiently with some of its YouTube content creators across the globe for greater benefit on both ends.