By Troy Dreier
The rumors were true: YouTube introduced a subscription plan today called YouTube Red. For $10 per month, fans get a jumble of perks that includes ad-free viewing, original content, access to a new music service, and the ability to download videos for offline viewing.
The ad-free viewing is good for any screen where the subscriber signs in. The membership covers the YouTube Gaming app and the YouTube Music app.
That Music app is also part of today’s announcement. It’s not out yet, but YouTube says it’s coming soon. Because YouTube apps don’t work unless they’re in the foreground—and subscribers will certainly want to play music in the background while while doing something else—YouTube Red also includes the ability to play videos in the background. YouTube didn’t mention how many music tracks will be available in the new app. The subscription also includes access to Google Play Music, which is itself $9.99 per month.
One of the biggest perks for YouTube Red subscribers is access to original content now being developed. This time around, YouTube is working with proven YouTube stars to create shows. For example, PewDiePie, Skybound Entertainment, and Maker Studios are combining to create “Scare PewDiePie,” where the Swedish video-maker experiences scary situations inspired by video games. Joey Graceffa will star in a murder mystery reality series, and the Fine Brothers are creating a scripted parody of reality singing shows called “Sing It!” YouTube Red will also offer original content from College Humor, Toby Turner, Rooster Teeth, and more.
The New York Times reports that the service will include programming from media companies like 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal, and Time Warner. According to the Times, companies felt pressured to participate, as YouTube implied their ad-supported videos wouldn’t be available in the U.S. otherwise.
In its blog post, YouTube presents YouTube Red as an answer to fans’ demands, but it’s unclear whether or not fans have been asking for a $10 per month subscription offering when YouTube already delivers so much for free. Many in the industry will be watching to see if YouTube can pull off this attempt to monetize its content. Given the site’s disastrous history of creating original video, as well as the fact that this service is clearly aimed at young viewers (who might balk at paying for content), and YouTube Red’s success is anything but a foregone conclusion.
YouTube Red will be available in the U.S. starting October 28. YouTube will offer a 30-day free trial.