YouTube today introduced its long-anticipated subscription service, YouTube Red, which costs $9.99 per month. (If you sign up via Apple’s App store, it costs $12.99 per month.) Here’s what that monthly subscription gets you:
- Videos without ads. YouTube has to be careful not to cannibalize its advertising business, which some estimate brings in $4 billion a year. At a press event in Los Angeles, Matthew Glotzbach, a YouTube product manager, noted that “a lot of people love the ads on YouTube,” but some people don’t.
- The ability to save videos to watch offline. This feature is popular on Spotify’s streaming music app.
- The ability to play the audio from videos in the background on mobile, while using other apps or putting the phone to sleep.
In addition to these features, YouTube Red will include, as expected, original content funded by YouTube. This is the service’s second try at financing original content. The first time around, a $100 million initiative in 2011, fizzled, in part because YouTube invested in mainstream stars, rather than its own homegrown stars that already had big followings on the platform.
YouTube’s stable of stars have emerged as a powerful draw on the service. In fact, many have become millionaires by sharing in the ad revenue they generate on YouTube. The videos they publish are different from mainstream television. But few of YouTube’s stars have made the crossover.
Lilly Singh, a YouTube star involved in the original productions, said, “YouTube is like the best boyfriend I’ve ever had, and so I trust him with this project.” In addition to Singh, collaborations include Joey Graceffa, the Fine Brothers, RoosterTeeth and PewDiePie. The videos will be available exclusively for subscribers, but may be released for the public later, YouTube executives said.
YouTube Red “marks an evolution in our desire to give fans more choice and features that they love,” said Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer.
Kyncl declined to provide a breakdown of how much money it would pay creators for their involvement in creating exclusive YouTube Red content. He noted that the “vast majority” of subscription revenue would go to creators, and it would be divvied up based on how many minutes each video is watched.
The subscription service will also include access to music from Google’s Play store (GOOG). Subscribers to Google Play’s existing music service will automatically get access to YouTube Red.
YouTube has been promising a dedicated music app for many months. Today the company announced that app, called YouTube Music. It is YouTube’s third “vertical” app, following a dedicated gaming app and a dedicated kids app. YouTube Music will be available “soon,” the company said.
When asked about the name YouTube Red, which sounds similar to RedTube, a porn site, Glotzbach said names are “part art and science. “We’re not too worried about that other site you mentioned,” he said.
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