Youtube unveiled its long-awaited subscription service today at an event at its YouTube Space in Los Angeles. Dubbed YouTube Red, the advertising-free option will go live one week from today, Oct. 28, across mobile phones, tablets, desktops and connected TVs.
Here’s what you need to know about the new service:
YouTube Red won’t affect the free, ad-supported version
YouTube Red is meant to be additive. Users can sign up to be Red members with their existing accounts. Think of it as a pay wall, another way for YouTube to add to Google’s bottom line. YouTube’s ad business is still strong: The number of advertisers has grown 40 percent over the past year, with the top 100 advertisers increasing their average spend by 60 percent year over year.
This puts YouTube in competition with SVOD players
YouTube is banking on obsessive users to plop down $9.99 a month ($12.99 if you’re an Apple user) to be liberated from ads. Here’s how that price compares to other subscription streaming players:
- Netflix: $8.99
- Hulu: $7.99, or $11.99 for the ad-free option
- Amazon Prime: $99 per year (about $8.25 per month)
- HBO Now: $14.99
- Showtime: $10.99
YouTube Red will give scripted shows to its unscripted stars
When YouTube hired Suzanne Daniels from MTV to head up its original programming efforts, it signaled it was serious about upgrading from its millions of hours of user-generated videos. YouTube is rolling out a slate of original content that will be exclusive only to YouTube Red subscribers.
Some of the platform’s biggest creators, including PewDiePie, Lilly Singh, The Fine Bros. and Toby Turner, are among the YouTube stars producing scripted series for Red. The shows will begin to roll out early next year. YouTube will pay out the majority of the revenue it gets from its subscriptions to its partners. Roughly 98 percent of its creators have signed on for Red.
Subscribers also have the option of saving videos and watch them offline.
YouTube Red subscribers get access to a new version of YouTube music
YouTube Red evolved from Music Key, a YouTube subscription service that launched in beta in November 2014. YouTube Music will have a free standalone app and will be ad-free for YouTube Red subscribers. YouTube Music also works with Google Play Music, meaning subscribers of either service get access to both.