January 21, 2016
YouTube recently announced their new paid service called YouTube Red. Naturally, I had to sign up for a free trial and see if it was worth adding to my list of subscriptions.
Youtube Red has three main features that it will add to your YoutTube experience.
The removal of ads is something that everyone will get behind but something I didn’t associate with Youtube all that much.
Background play is one that I have been most excited about. However, paying a premium for a feature like that seems to be a bit of a stretch for me. That should be something that is in the YouTube experience for all users.
YouTube has a deal with creators so that every video will be added free. There was a bit of a controversy around this. As Youtube bullied everyone into joining Red. If you didn’t allow your videos in Red, your videos might not show up in search results. This move has caused some companies to leave youtube and even some of the larger ones. But, there has been slight noise about the requirements once the product did finally launch.
It is a nicer user experience all the ads go away. However, it is hard to support such a heavy-handed option like forcing everyone into a service.
I never thought that I was a heavy YouTube user. That may be because YouTube has become a part of our lives. I think that is what makes it a little hard to think of this as something to buy.
I never had a moment while watching a YouTube video that the ads pissed me off. Hulu on the other hand recently announced a subscription plan that would cut out ads on their platform. I have already seen the same shampoo commercial five times while, writing this.
This feature is the most tempting for me. If you are a Red subscriber, you can close the Youtube app, and your video will keep running. I know that might not seem like a big deal, but this is one of those features that I have been craving. I feel like whenever I use the mobile app, I want to hope out and check out another app and just let the audio play. I find that if I leave the app, I end up not finishing the video. This is a killer feature for the app but, it probably should be a default setting. I don’t know why they need to throw this under the premium tag.
After YouTube Red was announced, they also released a separate music app. This is another dark horse for YouTube. Through using the app, I found it is one of most enjoyable ways to listen to music. The search is spot on, and they have a little toggle switch to go back and forth between video and audio stream.
This is also another section where Background Play comes into the game, which takes the app to another level. This streaming service might be able to replace a Spotify or Apple Music.
I would love to see an easy and simple way to share song without other people. A one click the button to send a song in hangouts? Even post list link on Twitter. Music is usually a shared experience. When, you find that great track you want to send that out to your inner circle. There is something about the sharing features in Spotify that keeps me going back to it. It is a service that I would love to change.
Google Play Music is a solid music offering that I have used in the past. I like how I can merge my library with paid tracks. However, there is nothing compelling enough to switch from Spotify to Google Play.
Google Play Music has family plan pricing of $14.99 for up to 6 accounts. If you split that up, it comes out to $2.50 an account. If you sign up for Google Play Music, you get access to YouTube Red.
If you are like me, you have a million subscription services. Here is the list of my current media subscriptions.
Spotify Family - $15 (2 accounts)
Hulu - $7.99
Netflix - $9.99
Amazon Prime - $99yr HBO Now - $15
YouTube Red doesn’t replace any of those for me. One day it could take on a lot of these services. Right now Red falls into the category of something that would be “nice” to have. The family plans and Google music integration do make it an attractive alternative.
Still, the best parts of YouTube Red are features that I wish the app already had in place. The Background Play should be something turned on by default. I don’t want to have to pay 10 dollars a month for the privilege of that. The idea of paying $120 a year so that I can close the app and continue to listen to my video seems a little absurd.
I wrote the above while having a free trial to YouTube Red. I don’t ever remember noticing YouTube ads all that much beforehand. But, ever since then the ads have been so annoying. I guess once they go away it is hard to go back to them.
Written by John Siwicki who lives and works building interesting things. You should follow him on Twitter