As YouTube rolled out its new streaming service Wednesday, users began to debate whether the extra perks will be worth the cost.
YouTube Red, the platform’s long-anticipated paid streaming service, will be available for $9.99 per month, with a one-month free trial available to U.S. viewers. It’s ad-free, gives users access to YouTube videos offline and will feature Google Play music and a slate of new YouTube original content.
Since its inception 10 years ago, YouTube has been a democratic, entirely free space for creators and fans alike. Some users are worried that Red will change that community feel, even though YouTube itself will remain almost entirely free.
When Jesse Ridway, 23, first heard about YouTube Red, he said he was “caught off guard.” The New Jersey native, who has been posting videos to his channel “McJuggerNuggets” since 2006, was unsure of what the Google video giant’s streaming platform would actually entail.
“In light of everything Youtube has provided for me, I do believe that they wouldn’t negatively impact their creators on purpose,” the 23-year-old told Mashable. “However, if they’re trying to expand and increase their bottom-line, it may be an inevitability.”
Ridgway said he is still unsure as to whether he will purchase Red but will ultimately invest in “whatever benefits the creators more.”
Some of Ridgways’s initial concerns were shared by other YouTube users, who took to social media using the hashtag “#stopyoutubered” to express their frustration. To date, about 15,500 YouTubers across the globe have signed a Change.org petition calling on an end to the service.
Others on social media, including YouTube superstar Tyler Oakley, were worried creators will not receive revenue during Red’s one month free trial.
Oakley, who has amassed 7.7 million subscribers on his channel, made reference to the time when Taylor Swift took issue in June with Apple Music’s policy of not paying royalties during consumers’ three-month free trial. That same night, Apple changed its tune.
But YouTube maintains that its users and creators will benefit from Red because it allows them to choose how they want to experience the platform.
In a blog post on Wednesday morning, titled “YouTube Red is here: Seven things to know about our new subscription service,” the platform reassured users that creators will get paid during the free trials.
“Creators are the lifeblood of YouTube. So with Google Play Music subscribers instantly joining YouTube Red, we will pay a portion of the revenue we receive from these subscribers to our creators on day 1. Even with 30 day free trials, our creator community will make as much or more as they would have without YouTube Red.”
At the subscription service’s unveiling last week, YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl also emphasized that creators will help the service differentiate itself in the marketplace from competitors such as Netflix and Hulu.
So far, the originals, headed by MTV programming chief alumnus Susanne Daniels, have generated a ton of positive social media buzz from fans of YouTube stars. Many tweeted at their favorite YouTubers — including Lilly Singh, Joey Graceffa and the Fine Bros — asking when their new, exclusive content will be available (YouTube said it will unveil originals beginning in January).
Abby Honn, a 20-year-old from Noblesville, Indiana, said she downloaded Red immediately.
“I think that it is absolutely worth it,” she told Mashable. “YouTube is a part of my every day routine. I always watch videos before falling asleep, and like I said already, I watch them throughout the day. I’m subscribed to over 50 channels, so I have to keep up. I pay for Netflix every single month, but I use it way less than YouTube.”
For creators involved, it’s a way to expand their content offerings for super fans who pay for the service.
“YouTube Red is an opportunity where we as creators get to make higher quality content for our audience,” Graceffa, whose untitled reality murder mystery series is part of the new Red originals, said at the press conference last week.
Peter Csathy, CEO of Manatt Digital Media, said YouTube Red’s fate is by no means a certainty.
“It’s a grand experiment,” Csathy told Mashable. “The goal of subscriptions for YouTube and virtually all others is to create a service that is differentiated enough.”
Ultimately, Csathy feels Red will find its place in the crowded streaming service market.
“There are a lot of skeptics out there but YouTube is smartly trying to evolve and for consumers, at the end of the day, it just gives them more choice.”