Seeing red: YouTube’s new paid subscription service

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Seeing red: YouTube’s new paid subscription service
YouTube recently released a service called Youtube Red. (Courtesy of Droid Life)

By CHELSEA GUO 
Contributing Writer

YouTube, the free online video website, is known and loved all over the world as a center for entertainment, education, art and comedy. Over the past couple of years, YouTube has grown into a huge community of “YouTubers” who make videos for a living and viewers who subscribe, like and comment.

Viewers who want to further support their favorite creators can do so in a variety of different ways, including donating using sites such as Patreon or purchasing merchandise from YouTubers’ stores.

Because YouTube is available to all for free, it is supported by advertising. However, now that YouTube has launched the service YouTube Red, viewers can pay to remove ads, download videos to watch them offline and more. Furthermore, some YouTubers are collaborating with YouTube to create content exclusively available on YouTube Red.

YouTube Red costs $9.99 per month, which can be a hefty sum for many. Teenagers make up a huge portion of YouTube’s audience, but many of them cannot afford the service. Other viewers who appreciate having free videos may also feel that the price is unfair.

“I think it kind of makes it harder for a lot of people, especially like me, teenagers, who don’t want to pay to get access to see things that they want to see. The people that use YouTube don’t want to pay for extra things,” Sam Grigg (Jr.) said. “They use it ‘cause it’s free.”

Famous author and YouTuber John Green addressed this issue in a video on his channel VlogBrothers titled “Understanding YouTube Red: Paid Subscriptions and the Future of Online Video.” This video sparked a string of discussion in the comments section where many passionate viewers and creators spoke of how they felt about this new addition. Green also spoke of a possible hierarchy between paid and free subscribers.

“You can already see a lot of bias towards customers who buy their products and things they share, so I think that’s putting priority for the people that pay rather than don’t pay,” Grigg said on how YouTubers treat their subscribers.

After all, YouTubers do make a living off of the content they produce. In fact, their main source of income is from allowing ads to run on their videos as well as selling merchandise. The most popular YouTubers and the ones with the greatest potential are often offered contracts with talent agencies that help distribute their content. These companies pay creators for the views and subscribers they get, much like being paid on commission. One feature of YouTube Red is exclusive shows from certain prominent creators with videos only available to those who pay for it.

“For the YouTubers, I think it’s going to allow them to have a bigger profit and make more content for their watchers, also it’s going to help YouTube from being controlled by major corporations,” Ashley Yang (So.) said. “I think it’s a really good idea […] and since so many people are already devoted to YouTubers, it’s a good investment because you have fangirls who will pay those ten dollars and there’s millions upon millions of those so…[Youtube is] going to be raking in big money.”

Along with the exclusive content and lack of advertisements, a big part of YouTube Red has to do with music. $9.99 also gives the customer a free Google Play music subscription and the ability to listen to videos in the background while using the device for other tasks.

“For Android users it’s good because Google Play is so integrated into the Android environment, but for people who have iPhones, Google Play music offers no sense of appeal,” Phil Chen (So.) said.

For all its features, many are questioning whether or not YouTube Red is worth its price tag.

“I watch YouTube almost every day,” Malia Duong (Fr.) said. “I feel like if they added maybe a few more features that people would be interested in, then it would be popular.”

YouTube Red has already been available to users living in the U. S. since October 28. A free month trial is also available to American users who want to experience it without the money. Hopefully, more reviews of the service will appear soon so that hesitant buyers will have a better idea of the service’s performance.

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