Joan E. Solsman | CNET
Google’s massive video site will launch a subscription tier that strips out ads for a price. But the free ad-based option remains.
NEW YORK — Online video giant YouTube unveiled a paid service that takes away commercials for $10 a month.
The new YouTube Red is an alternative to the free, ad-based service, which remains an option.
“The YouTube you know and love continues to thrive and will continue to thrive,” Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl said Wednesday at a presentation for members of the press. “We have been working on bringing a whole new experience to fans…a new way to experience YouTube without ads.”
Related Article: YouTube Now Requires GOOGLE+ Account To Post Comments
The new tier asks the more than 1 billion people who visit YouTube each month to alter their assumptions about the worth of online video. By putting a dollar value on a site that was free with advertising for a decade, parent Google is showing it believes consumers will pay for its content and new perks. It also puts YouTube in competition with popular online subscription services like Netflix and Hulu. That means consumers more and more will need to consider how many entertainment sites deserve $10 a month out of their wallets.
“Paid membership is a really hard business to be in,” Kyncl said. He added that YouTube initially focused on developing Red with desired features like offline and background viewing before deciding it should have exclusive content as well. “Every subscription service goes through an evolution, and we’ll learn.”
YouTube Red serves all of YouTube’s videos without ads, and it lets members save videos to watch offline on their phone or tablet as well as play videos in the background. It also includes exclusive original shows and movies by top YouTube talent. Membership extends across devices and YouTube apps, including the YouTube Gaming app and a new YouTube Music app the company will make available soon.
Viewers in the US can try YouTube Red for free for one month starting October 28. It is launching initially in the US, but the company plans to expand to every area where YouTube operates.
YouTube, the Internet’s biggest video site, also touted a parade of some of the site’s most popular talent, who are releasing movies and shows for Red members. “Scare PewDiePie” is a reality horror series that plunks the site’s most popular video creator, Felix Kjellberg (39.9 million channel followers), into terrifying situations inspired by video games. “A Trip to Unicorn Island” is a movie that follows creator Lilly Singh, known as Superwoman (6.9 million channel followers), on her world tour. “Sing It!” is a scripted series about a fictional vocal competition from the Fine Brothers (13.3 million channel followers), best known for their “Kids React to…” franchise of videos.