Would you Pay for YouTube Red? Because I wouldn’t.
Google has made an interesting announcement this week about a new service they are rolling out in the United States: YouTube Red. Basically, it’s a subscription based service built around the famous – and hugely popular – video sharing portal. Aside from removing ads, YouTube’s freshly released service will offer a lot of extra benefits to its subscribers in exchange for $9.99 a month: exclusive content, added services and more. For details about the service and its benefits to you head over to the official YouTube blog. I’m not here to discuss the service itself – there are lots of news outlets and specialty blogs that have already done it. I’m here to tell you why I will never become one of its subscribers.
Ad Supported vs. Paid Services – The Clash of Business Models
In the early days of the dot-com explosion people were receptive to advertising they saw on websites. And they often clicked the banners, generating revenue for the websites’ operators. Ads were far less intrusive back then, and occupied a far smaller portion of the useful space. Great times… but they came to an end. People slowly developed something specialists call “ad blindness”, which causes them to simply ignore any type of advertising they might be served.
The internet slowly became infested with more and more intrusive ads, much like mobile games are becoming today. I downloaded a simple stopwatch app this morning – I planned to feed my boy a poached egg with ham – and when I switched to the timer I was greeted by an ad that covered the whole screen. Completely unrelated to timing, I must say. Although I understand that people want to be compensated for their work, but I still consider ads like this to be rude. I deleted the app from my phone after just one use.
People don’t want to see ads – that’s why ad blocking software is so successful – but developers and content creators still need to be compensated for their effort to deliver quality products. In the late 1990s a new business model was introduced to compensate for the “ad blindness” – the paywall. The Wall Street Journal, a respectable business and financial publication, was the first major media outlet to introduce such a thing, and it has gained over 200,000 subscribers in just one year. Since then a series of other news outlets have followed their lead, offering their subscribers premium content for a price – much like in the way they subscribed to their printed versions back in the day.
YouTube Red is, as far as I see it, something that combines the two business models. Users will continue to have access to its ad-supported services, but all the extra benefits Red offers – Google Music, exclusive content and the other goodies – will be hidden behind a paywall.
Is the new YouTube Red for you?
You should ask yourself that. I have – and I have decided that it’s not.
I’m not such an avid YouTube user. Of course, I watch videos from time to time, and use YouTube as my personal jukebox whenever I feel like listening to music. But right now there’s nothing that would justify subscribing to its paid service.
For one, its YouTube Music, its background play option and Google Music are services I don’t use, and don’t even intend to in the future. Its free services – YouTube videos with AutoPlay and third party – free or ad supported music streaming services are perfect for my needs.
And when it comes to the exclusive content it offers, I’ve read through the list of what is coming, and I’ve decided that it’s not for me. I’m not a huge fan of reality shows as it is, and PewDiePie, one of the biggest stars on the video streaming portal, is not someone I want to see – not on a normal day, let alone pay to see him scared. As for the rest: Lazer Team and Single by 30 sounds fun, and I’ll most likely try them – but paying for them is another matter altogether.
What would I do different if I were YouTube?
Ad-free YouTube sounds good enough to be worth paying for. And if I were YouTube, I would offer ad-free viewing at a price – but not bundled with all the extra content and services.
YouTube should offer its users a greater variety of paid services – like the removal of ads for $1.99 a month (let’s call it YouTube Black), the addition of YouTube Music for another $1.99, and so on, and also offer the whole package. This way I think it could gain more paying subscribers in the long run.
But the service in its current form – a bundle of content, services and ad removal – is not interesting for the user like me. This is why I wouldn’t pay for YouTube Red. But I still consider it a good start, with a lot of potential for the future.