On Oct. 28, Google revealed its paid subscription video service: YouTube Red. The price is set at $9.99 per month, and includes new content from popular creators, a subscription to Google Play Music, YouTube Music, and an ad-free experience.
In addition to hosting a variety of exclusive content from well-known creators such as PewDiePie, Tobuscus, and College Humor, a YouTube Red subscription allows users to save videos for offline viewing, and to play videos in the background. These are two long-awaited features for mobile YouTube users, and many are subscribing to YouTube Red specifically for those capabilities.
However, other users are taking a stand against YouTube Red, particularly because of the way it impacts creators. Creators are essentially being forced to participate in the new subscription service. YouTube executives announced recently that any content creator who allows ads to be played before their videos must become a YouTube Red channel, or their videos will be marked as “invisible” to viewers. As these advertisements are the primary source of revenue for many content creators, many have no choice but to become part of the subscription service.
As far as payout for creators, they will receive 55% of the total net revenue, with YouTube receiving the other 45%. For each video that a YouTube Red subscriber watches, the creator of that video will receive a portion of the 55% of the monthly subscription fee, proportional to how much time the user spent viewing that creator’s content. This ensures that creators are being paid on the basis of how many views they receive, which benefits YouTubers with lower numbers of subscribers.
However, for fans who want to support specific YouTube channels, subscribing to YouTube Red isn’t a particularly effective method. Buying merchandise from an individual creator’s online store would ultimately give more money to a specific creator than watching their videos on YouTube Red. Another option is to use Patreon: a site that allows viewers to donate directly to the YouTube creators they watch. Donations are taken automatically every time that a creator uploads a new video, until the viewer-designated monthly maximum contribution is reached.
A final concern that has been raised is how the automatic subscription to YouTube Music with a new YouTube Red subscription will affect other music streaming services, such as Spotify and Apple Music. Both of those services charge users $9.99 a month just to stream music, whereas now, YouTube Red offers that on top of the benefits for YouTube video watchers. Some believe that Spotify and Apple Music will be forced to lower their subscription prices in order to compete with YouTube Music. So far, neither has adjusted the subscription fee.