YouTube Red

Thursday, 22 October 2015

The Verge got an interesting exclusive look at YouTube Red. For $9.99 a month, YouTube users get the video-sharing platform ad-free, along with the option to download videos for offline use.

I have a few thoughts on this. Firstly, there’s this:

On the face of it, YouTube’s new ad-free subscription service seems like an existential threat to the advertisers the service has spent a decade courting. Kyncl, ever the salesman, argues that Red could boost creator earnings without cannibalizing the ad business. “We believe in the advertising business. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the content on YouTube will be free, as it always has been,” he explained. “So the world that all of our advertising partners are used to remains alive and well and [watch time]continues to grow at an astonishing 60 percent year over year. There is nothing we are taking away from there, merely adding onto it.”

Does that “adding on” involve a more aggressive ad push for regular users?

I also find it terrible that as the world’s most popular music streaming platform (yes, a lot of people still search up songs on YouTube), they’re making ‘background play’ — your audio continuing when you leave the app on mobile devices — a paid feature. It shouldn’t be a way for them to make money, it’s simply being a good citizen of the ecosystem.

Also, YouTube Originals:

YouTube Originals pair stars who were born on the platform with top talent from film and television. “What we realized is that in many cases, content creators on YouTube have worked on a shoestring budget for many years, and have built super fan bases basically on zero budgets,” says Kyncl. “In order to scale up, it takes a different kind of enterprise, a different kind of skill set; there is [a] story-telling skill set, there is showrunning, etc.” In the near future, PewDiePie will be matched with the producer of The Walking Dead to make a scripted horror series very different from his one-man vlogs. YouTube Originals is also helping to produce and promote a documentary about the world tour of comedian Lilly Singh.

This is an ingenious idea. The main advantage in terms of content that YouTube’s got going for them that other media streaming services don’t have is the talent, and we’re not talking Hollywood actors. It’s the “YouTubers” who put their videos on YouTube, and amass millions of subscribers. The internet has allowed a revolution to come into play. Do you visit Vogue or Racked for keeping up-to-date with fashion trends, or do you check that fashion blogger’s Instagram?

Especially with today’s generation moving to YouTube for more and more content, those who love these personalities, but are unsatisfied with the production quality of some of these videos (such as myself) are being served by YouTube Originals. Let’s face it — you don’t watch PewDiePie for breathtaking cinematography, do you? Pairing YouTube creators with people who can do high-quality production can make YouTube the king of television. We’re seeing a massive reorganization in online video, and it’s safe to say that maybe within five years, cable TV as we know it will be gone, forever an artifact to remain in old people’s televisions. It’s an exciting future.

Sadly, YouTube is using its position as the online video juggernaut to strong-arm creators into accepting the YouTube Red’s subscription deal. Any creator that doesn’t accept the deal will find their content invisible to the public on both ad-free and ad-supported tiers. Even if they hold the future of video in their hands, it’ll be interesting to see how Google’s — sorry, Alphabet’s — monopoly affects creators everywhere.

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