What’s the deal with YouTube Red?

Most of us would have used YouTube at least once in our lives. Whether it’s for a DIY video, a music clip, or maybe you’re a fan of a particular YouTube channel, YouTube has evolved considerably since its humble beginnings in 2005. It has evolved to be bought by Google, and now has a premium subscription service – YouTube Red. YouTube Red is like the regular service, but with a few extra perks to justify its subscription costs. See what the deal is with YouTube Red, whether it’s worth your money or not, and how it compares to other streaming services in this Canstar Blue review.

What is YouTube Red?

YouTube Red was launched in 2014, and is YouTube’s premium version of the video service. While the basic premise is the same, Red has a few extra perks that may justify its $11.99 monthly price tag:

  • Ad-free streaming
  • Offline video capability
  • Background video playback
  • Ad-free music streaming through Google Play Music
  • Exclusive content including ‘YouTube Red Originals’

As it stands, Australia is one of the few countries to have access to YouTube Red, comprising five countries in total, including: Mexico, New Zealand, South Korea and the United States. This is noteworthy, because Australia is often a bit lagging when it comes to getting the latest streaming options, and YouTube Red is available here before it’s available in the UK. However, all is not lost when it comes to other countries; they are allowed to purchase individual episodes and clips.

Perhaps the biggest boon for subscribers is the background video playback, which was a common gripe before the introduction of Red. With this feature you can close your mobile phone or exit YouTube to use another application, and still have the clip’s sound play in the background. Ad-free streaming is also pretty self-explanatory but may be redundant if users already had an ad blocker on their web browser installed. A Google Play Music subscription is also included, and is ad-free.

Offline video capability also allows users to download videos for use for up to 30 days, to be watched even without an internet connection. This makes it possible to watch YouTube videos on planes or while on the move where a data or Wi-Fi connection isn’t available. In any case, you do get a few perks, as well as exclusive content (but more on that later).

How much does YouTube Red Australia cost?

YouTube Red in Australia costs $11.99 a month, after a free one month’s trial. This is only a couple of dollars more than what the US offers Red at ($9.99), and at the time of writing, works out to be cheaper when the exchange rate is factored in.

How much do YouTube creators make?

A New York Times article outlined that YouTube creators take 55% of the total ad revenue, while YouTube itself takes 45%. An average pre-roll ad costs USD $7.60 per 1,000 ad views, so for every 1,000 views a YouTube video creator would take about $4.18. However, YouTube channels have the right to dictate how many videos are ‘monetised’ i.e. how many have ads on them, with some users only putting ads on 20% of the time, or for 200 views out of 1,000. That means for a video with 1,000,000 views, conservative estimates would mean that YouTube users make around $836 on that video. The most popular YouTube channels earn over USD $100,000 a year.

What are YouTube Red Originals?

YouTube Red is another avenue for YouTube channels to show their creative talents, and a few of the more popular channels are in direct partnership with YouTube to create a series of Original shows. The following are a few YouTube Originals available:

Category Title Channel/User
Series Scare PewDiePie PewDiePie/Felix Kjellberg
Prank Academy Jesse Wellens & Jeana Smith
Escape the Night Joey Graceffa
Broke BuzzFeed
Films & Documentaries Lazer Team Rooster Teeth
The Thinning Logan Paul
Dance Camp AwesomenessTV
The Keys of Christmas Rudy Mancuso

As it stands, these videos are available on regular YouTube, except Red users can simply view them ad-free and get all the other perks that a subscription provides. As Red starts to take off as a legitimate streaming service, we imagine more and more original series and feature-length films will come to YouTube, similar to how Netflix has its Originals.

How can I watch YouTube Red?

Perhaps the best thing about YouTube Red is that it’s still essentially YouTube, somewhat like Lexus is to Toyota – a few extra bells and whistles. With YouTube Red, you can watch it like normal YouTube, which means you catch watch on the following devices with an internet connection:

  • Smartphones and tablets
  • Laptops and computers
  • Google Chromecast
  • Apple TV
  • Compatible smart TVs
  • Compatible media players such as Fetch

How does YouTube Red compare to other streaming services?

YouTube Red is a little different than other streaming services like Netflix or Stan in that it’s still essentially YouTube, but with a few extra perks.

  • YouTube is $11.99 a month in which you still get the YouTube library, just with extra features that mainly focus on better user experience
  • Netflix and Stan start at $9.99 and $10 respectively, and you can’t access the content without a subscription – there is no ‘free’ version except for the free trial

In this sense, especially compared to these two, you will have to consider if $12 a month is worth it for the extra perks and the same YouTube content. For those obsessed with a particular channel or who use YouTube daily, the fee is probably a no brainer. Also for those who use Google Play Music, there is extra value to be had here. However, for the ‘sometimes’ user – especially one who already has Netflix or Stan – they may struggle to see value in YouTube Red, especially in its infancy.

YouTube Red has the propensity to grow all the time, however, as creators flock to YouTube and use it as a more legitimate way to upload exciting shows, documentaries and movies. Channels like Buzzfeed and the Australian Mighty Car Mods are dabbling in feature-length films that may make it worthwhile to buy a Red account for. However, for that person who just wants a few music clips to watch or a DIY video, $12 might be too expensive.

Would YouTube Red add to my streaming experience?

There’s no question that YouTube Red improves upon the already-great YouTube user experience. It cuts out ads, allows background playability on mobiles, includes a Google Play Music subscription and has huge potential for the future to offer more Red Originals. However, at present, unless you’re a stickler for a seamless YouTube experience or merely a devotee, you may struggle to justify $11.99 a month when the free version of YouTube isn’t bad to begin with.

It may be a case of ‘once you go Red, you never go back’, but from a casual streaming perspective, money may be better spent on a Netflix or Stan subscription. YouTube Red has huge potential, and in a few years’ time it will be interesting to see where it can go, but right now, especially for the everyday YouTuber, the asking price may be a bit hard to stomach.

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