The rumored ad-free subscription version of YouTube has officially been announced. Dubbed YouTube Red, the premium membership lets subs watch content ad free, save videos for offline viewing, play videos in the background, and use the service on YouTube’s gaming app and a new YouTube Music app that’s coming soon. The service officially launches October 28 and costs $9.99 a month for Android, desktop and mweb, and $12.99 a month for iOS.
YouTube Music allows you to pick a track and then let go on a journey of discover through the platform’s music catalogue, like a radio service, a la Spotify or Pandora. The library is still being completed, YouTube said in an online FAQ. You can “like” music and make playlists that can be listened to offline—in both audio and video form—if you’re a YouTube Red subscriber. When you download the new music app, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial.
Another aspect of the new service is programming. Early next year, YouTube Red will include new originals from popular YouTube personalities, like pop culture expert MatPat from The Game Theorists, Lilly Singh, Toby Turner, PewDiePie, Rooster Teeth and Joey Graceffa. It’s launching in the US first, but plans to go global throughout the year.
Things that will continue to exist with the premium service: comment sections, likes and views. But specific verticals of the YouTube Red exclusive content will have varied experiences.
What about rights issues? Reportedly, there’s some tension there. Tech Crunch points out that YouTube has signed on most of the creators, TV networks and movie studios to the program, according to a YouTube executive at today’s event at YouTube Space LA, and that there is a split of subscription revenue between the creators and YouTube. But those who don’t sign on will have their videos hidden from both the free and paid versions. This week the Wall Street Journal reported that traditional media companies “reluctantly” signed on, initially hoping for a greater share of revenue for their content.