YouTube Red

By | September 1, 2016

I signed up for YouTube Red this week, and I recommend you give it a try (they offer a free 1 month trial). But, that is not why I am writing this posting. Before I get to my main point, though, here’s some quick info:

YouTube Red is a premium version of Youtube which costs $9.99/month (or $14.99 for a family account for up to 6 people). It has a bunch of features, but there are only two that will really matter to most people:
1. It lets you surf Youtube ad-free. No more being forced to watch an annoying ad before your video loads.
2. You get Google’s music streaming service (Google Play Music) for free, which normally costs $9.99/month.

I currently pay $9.99/month to Spotify to listen to music online, and from what I can tell so far, Google Play Music streaming is just as good. Some reviewers even like the Google Play Music app better than Spotify and Apple Music. So, I can cancel Spotify, switch to Google Play, and YouTube Red will be free for me. Even though YouTube Red has been around for almost a year, and I knew about it, I never really thought about what it offered. I mainly was thinking that I don’t care at all about the exclusive videos the Red version offers, so it would not be of any use to me.

The real reason I am writing about YouTube Red is not just because it is something you might want to check out, but because it is a good example of how something relatively simple can usher in a paradigm shift in an industry or your life. For example, when I bought a high-end scanner a few years ago, it led me to have a paperless office, and the soon after a paperless life, and I never felt so free. When I bought a Kindle, it did not just change the way I read books; it caused me to read 10 times more books. Throwing away all my old CDs and switching to streaming music 10 years ago was very liberating and also resulted in me listening to, and discovering much more music. Radio always had too many annoying ads; books were too cumbersome to carry around all the time. Same thing with DVRs and Television. Getting TiVo changed my TV life.

I have always liked YouTube videos, and I watched viral clips and did searches for things on YouTube (how to do this, how to do that), but YouTube was never a media destination for me like TV, music, or books were because the ads at the start of each YouTube video made watching endless videos, endlessly annoying. I would go to YouTube to look for a particular video, but I would leave after I found what I was looking for. Now, with the ads gone, when I am looking for something to do, it has rocketed up my entertainment choices list, so that instead of just being part of my daily general web surfing, I might now choose between watching TV or watching YouTube. That is a pretty big accomplishment for YouTube, as they did not actually add anything new that I want to watch, they just made the viewing experience more pleasant for me.

Something similar has happened over the past few years with podcasts. Podcasts have been around since 2004, but the vast majority of the general public had never listened to one until 2014 when Serial became a massive hit and transcended its medium, becoming part of American pop culture. People then figured out how and where to listen to podcasts, and that there were other great podcasts available also. Google Play Music now even has Podcasts as a featured category on their menu, making them very easy to listen to. So, like with YouTube, podcasts have also shot up to be one of the top few choices on my entertainment list.

In reality, YouTube Red is not nearly as big a deal as how Netflix streaming caused me to stop renting videos or Amazon Prime caused me to buy almost everything from Amazon instead of brick and mortar stores. It is really just a very small part of a bigger cultural change. In recent years millions of people have been cutting the cord (canceling cable TV) and spending that money piecemeal on lower cost subscription services (Hulu, Netflix, HBO Go, etc.) instead. By offering that type of service, YouTube is now grabbing a share of that huge market. Interestingly, you may remember that before Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion in 2006, and even for another 2 years after it, YouTube had no ads at all preceding the videos. So, I am now paying for something I was already getting for free 10 years ago. But, YouTube has much more content to offer than it did back then, so I think it is worth it.

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12 thoughts on “YouTube Red

  1. John D.

    I completely agree though I haven’t tried YouTube without ads I use the service a lot more with my Apple TV. I find lists of tv shows that are on YouTube but more so the loads of documentaries on just about any topic you can think of. Also there are quite a few channels on YouTube I find pretty entertaining:

    The Young Turks / Louder With Crowder (both give me an interested view of both sides of the coin)
    Its History
    Crash Course
    The Great War
    The Film Theorists (Check out the one on The Matrix and Game Of Thrones)
    Seeker Daily
    …just to name a few.

    I’ve been using YouTube a lot more lately but haven’t given Red a shot, I’ll check it out.

    One other thing, I would have to disagree on the Kindle point, I’ve actually found the reverse that I grew tired of reading books via a tablet. With a physical book in my hand I feel as if I’m actually accomplishing something, I know how far I am, I can better earmark a page and highlight, I’m also more inclined to return to that book with it physically looking me dead in the face. I digress though if I’m sitting somewhere in public or waiting in line I’m usually on my phone reading a book.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      You might like my site at http://dumb.com/movies/ where I have over 900 free public domain movies you can watch online, and at http://dumb.com/oldtimeradio/ where I have thousands of old radio shows you can listen to online.
      As for the Kindle, I soon grew tired of it also. After the first year or two of using it I switched to reading all books on the Kindle app on my iPhone instead, since that way I did not have to carry a Kindle around with me. It is not that I prefer reading an ebook, it is a time issue. Like you said, I can read it while waiting in line and other times when I would normally not be reading, so the end result is that I read much more than I used to. I don’t enjoy ebooks more than real books, but I was hardly reading any books before the Kindle came along, I mostly read business magazines.

  2. John D.

    Gotcha. One last thing, you may want to have a look at Scribd, it has a lot of the titles I look for and if not has a book on any topic. When I’m on the go I mostly use Scribd.com.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      In the past I have subscribed to Kindle Unlimited, which is similar.

  3. Bill Keck

    Good article. Youtube is one of the best acquisitions google ever made.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      Yes, although it depends how you look at it. The $1.65 billion seemed crazy high at the time, but now it is worth an estimated $50-$100 billion, so even if they overpaid by a billion it does not matter. The downside is that it has been 10 years since they bought it and YouTube still has not made a profit (right now it is estimated to break even), and it lost billions in the first few years. And, it may never make a profit.

  4. Michael

    I’ll have to give it a try I like watching the space documentaries on youtube and some of them have a ton of ads! Amazon Prime Video has a lot of good movies too might be getting better then Netflix! Netflix feels like it’s losing the good movies and just making there own shows now.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      Yes, I like Amazon Prime Video a lot also.

  5. rob sequin

    Somewhat unrelated but sort of a “paradigm shift”, get an Amazon Echo.

    Wifi i heart radio/Amazon prime music voice controlled device. TTell it to play a song, band, genre etc. Tell it “next song” and just goes to next song. Seven omnidirectional microphones hear you anywhere.

    Tells you the time, does calculations, sports and news etc. Use it with xfinity wifi hotspots too.

    Control your Nest or other home automation systems too.

    Not try to sell you one, just saying its one of those pieces of hardware to check out.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      Yes, I have read a lot about Echo and I agree, it may lead to a paradigm shift towards The Internet of Things. Nest is doing that also.

  6. tony

    What about Adblockplus ?

    If you install their browser plugin you get rid of ads on YouTube.

    It worked for me.

    1. Eric Borgos Post author

      Yes, I know about AdBlockers in general, but I did not know it blocked video ads. In general though, I am not a fan of the concept of ad blocking. While it is not illegal, it goes against the whole concept that most websites are supported by the revenue from ads, so if everybody did that those websites would all go out of business. On the other hand, I know there are DVRs now that can automatically skip commercials (not just fast-forwarding through them), and that would be tempting for me to use even though it is just as “wrong.” And, I do usually fast-forward through commercials on my DVR, so that could be considered “wrong” also. I guess what it comes down to is that I don’t mind looking at banner ads on websites, it is a necessary evil of supporting the sites. It is the video ads that drive me crazy, and with Youtube Red, I would rather pay the $10/month (plus I get Google Play Music for free that way) and support Youtube than do the opposite by blocking the ads.

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