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. I even helped my friend create a channel and used final cut pro for windows to edit the videos! It was really fun! 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.Share: