Earlier this week, YouTube introduced the long-rumored subscription plan. For a lot of people, this seems like an excellent idea, and one that a lot of people will sign up for just to get rid of ads, but it’s not all good, as there could be trouble ahead for YouTube’s content creators and users. Right now however, YouTube Red (really, best name you could have picked) is an exciting prospect and does something that the online platform has been in need of for some time now; it legitimizes the platform as something to take note of, something serious.
Remember a few years ago when Netflix was just something people who didn’t want to pay for cable – or collect these things called DVDs? Well, now Netflix is mainstream entertainment, and it practically made shows like Breaking Bad and created original content like House of Cards (Season 4 plx, thx). Of course, Netflix had content from some of the biggest studios on earth and helped us realize that we actually love binge watching everything but it was asking for money, and generating money. There’s a reason that magazines are still hanging around, if just barely, because it commands a price. Anything that commands a price instantly gets the attention of advertisers, content creators and users, because it has to be good, right?
A price tag gives YouTube “grown-up” status, and over the next 6 months to a year, people will start to think of YouTube differently. The network needs to be careful how it handles YouTube Red though, the fact that Google Play Music All Access subscribers will get it for free already raises the question of how serious YouTube is about all of this. Moreover, content creators that don’t sign up for YouTube Red will end up with their content “going private” and possibly be ostracized from the community. How exactly this works is unclear, as the whole “exclusive content” part of the equation doesn’t start until January of next year. Make no mistake though, people love YouTube because it’s free, and while $10 a month doesn’t sound like much, especially if you love YouTube, it’ll be difficult to get as many numbers as YouTube think they will.
I love YouTube. In fact, my love of YouTube is pretty ridiculous, I do not watch it via my TV, instead I waste time at my desk or – go ahead, judge – on the toilet to pass the time. I have some key content creators I enjoy greatly, like HappyConsoleGamer, Unbox Therapy, Tiametmarduk, College Humor and more, but that’s not what YouTube is about for me. Instead, YouTube has been a way for me to get access to live music performance (bootleg or otherwise), F1 videos from the past or those that aren’t broadcast in the UK and game reviews. For me, the best thing about YouTube are independent channels that basically churn out content related to something else, I don’t personally consider YouTube to be another TV channel for me, it’s something more than that, and it shouldn’t be treated as such.
Make no doubt about it though, YouTube Red will give YouTube legitimacy in a world of entertainment where the big houses still look upon the Internet as either a pirate’s hideout or a simple annoyance. YouTube Red is a big change and it won’t win people overnight, but it will make others take the service more seriously over time, and that could be a good thing for both independent content creators and viewers like us, but only time will tell.