In late 2015, YouTube Red joined the ranks of other subscription-based content streaming services like Hulu and Netflix. However, YouTube Red exists as an unknown offer for many who aren’t part of the YouTube community. As an avid YouTube watcher, I hesitated to try this new subscription service. Even as a fan who tries to stay apprised of all that’s going on in the community, I wasn’t completely sold on Red. It wasn’t until a year later when content creators that I was a fan of began to release member-only content on YouTube Red that I finally gave it a try. And I’ve yet to unsubscribe.
First off, here’s what you get with a $10 monthly fee:
- Removes ads from all videos (except paid channels, TV and movie purchases)
- Offline viewing
- Members-only original shows
- Free monthly Google Play Music subscription
I’ve yet to use Google Play Music (I’m too far down the Spotify rabbit hole) or try out the offline viewing as I don’t have a need for either. Although offline viewing might come in handy for long, internet-less trips. Removing ads is nice, although many people already use an ad-blocker; this is just a more guilt-free way to get the same results. But I have enjoyed the members-only original shows, and at the end of the day, that is why I subscribed and where the real value of Red lies.
Currently, the original shows boast a roster of both series and movies from popular YouTube content creators. PewDiePie, PrankVsPrank, Joey Graceffa, and ||Superwoman|| all have exclusive content available through this subscription service. Many of these shows and films feel like extensions of their regular content, the budget offered by YouTube allowing the creators to go a little bigger and better than usual. In some cases, I think that can really help channels like The Fine Bros and Wong Fu Productions who already produced episodic narratives on their channels.
To me, YouTube Red’s real value comes in when it allows content creators to find a home and funding for bigger, different projects they might otherwise never made or fully produced. The long-awaited Vlogumentary about the rise and lives of vloggers, most notably the daily vloggers SHAYTARDS and CTFxC, was finally made available to fans through Red. British YouTubers, Dan Howell (danisnotonfire) & Phil Lester (AmazingPhil) were able to share their stage show, The Amazing Tour Is Not on Fire, as well as a behind the scenes documentary through this service. Hosts of Good Mythical Morning and longtime YouTubers Rhett & Link were able to broaden their creative endeavors with their original series Buddy System. Vsauce was able to produce a TV-quality series, Mind Field, that could give network shows like Brain Games and Adam Ruins Everything a run for their money. (By the way, I wholeheartedly recommend all of these aforementioned shows. They are fantastic.)
My major qualm with this subscription service is how buried these additional features are. This isn’t like Hulu or Netflix where the website is everything you’ve been granted access to. Unless you are a fan of channels producing YouTube Red content or subscribe to the YouTube Red Originals channel, you might not even know what your $10 is getting you. Hopefully as YouTube continues to tweak this service, its integration into the website won’t be so buried.
But if you’re a fan of YouTube and regularly watch content on there from subscribers, I think this subscription is worth considering. The exclusive content seems to be made for the fans of those channels rather than the casual person seeking entertainment. It doesn’t have the same universality to it as Hulu and Netflix original shows do. While most people could enjoy Vlogumentary, Rhett & Link’s Buddy System, and Mind Field, I do think there is a richness to watching them having already been a long-time follower and fan of these YouTubers. This might just speak to the inherent exclusivity in fan bases where inside jokes, niche culture, and personality can play a big factor in your comprehension and enjoyment of the creation.
Still, I have trouble saying that YouTube Red will only ever be for the diehard core of the YouTube community. In the decade or so that YouTube has existed, it’s gone through a lot of changes. So have the content creators. I think there’s a lot of possibility down the road for YouTube Red to flourish and produce exclusive content that attracts large audiences akin to Hulu’s The Path or Netflix’s Stranger Things and Orange Is the New Black.
If you’re interested in checking out YouTube Red, you can sign up for a free month trial here.
Featured Image: Mythical Entertainment