YouTube Red

Daily Trust - - IT WORLD - with Prof. Fo­luso Ladeinde State Univer­sity of New York, Stony Brook, USA fo­luso.ladeinde@gmail.com

In the past, I some­times won­dered whether or not the YouTube free ser­vice to hu­mankind could be sus­tained. Be­sides al­low­ing you to cre­ate video contents and dis­trib­ute them for free all over the world, you can learn about the cul­tures and mu­sic of peo­ple from all over the world, such as the di­verse mu­si­cal and art her­itage from the African con­ti­nent. In fact, you can up­load vir­tu­ally any so­cially ac­cept­able con­tent to YouTube. So be­cause of this high level of use­ful­ness, I some­times thought about the plat­form’s mon­e­ti­za­tion mode, with the hope that the free ser­vice would con­tinue. Well, that was be­fore I learned of the fi­nan­cials of YouTube. I now know that Google, the owner of YouTube, will just be fine. In fact, YouTube has be­come a cash cow for Google. It is the most pop­u­lar video ser­vice in the world, as folks are spend­ing less time watch­ing tele­vi­sion and more watch­ing YouTube videos on their tablets and smart­phones.

Ac­cord­ing to a New York Times ar­ti­cle by Conor Dougherty and Emily Steel on 21 Oc­to­ber 2015, YouTube has be­come one of Google’s big growth driv­ers, with es­ti­mated ad rev­enue of $9.5 bil­lion this year. To push the en­ve­lope and squeeze out even more rev­enue out of YouTube, Google will be in­tro­duc­ing YouTube Red on 28 Oc­to­ber 2015 in the U.S., and a bit later else­where, at the cost of $9.99 per month. Al­though I find the name of the new ser­vice a bit odd, I guess it’s what’s in­side that re­ally counts. As with Google’s main source of in­come - In­ter­net search, the mon­e­ti­za­tion of YouTube is via the in­ter­rupt­ing ad­ver­tise­ments that pop over YouTube videos. That is, the pe­ri­odic ads that pop up as you watch a video in YouTube gen­er­ates the rev­enue for main­tain­ing the ser­vice. In the above ref­er­enced ar­ti­cle, Robert Kyncl, the chief busi­ness of­fi­cer at YouTube, was quoted as say­ing that: “the num­ber of ad­ver­tis­ers run­ning cam­paigns on YouTube was up 40 per­cent over the last year and that the top 100 ad­ver­tis­ers had in­creased spend­ing by 60 per­cent.”

I’ll now tell you the fea­tures of YouTube Red in com­par­i­son to its sub­scrip­tion-free ver­sion. The fea­tures are many, so you bet­ter tighten your belt. You will be able to have YouTube with­out the ads, which can be very an­noy­ing, but you re­ally didn’t have a choice be­fore now. An­other im­por­tant fea­ture is the abil­ity to down­load videos and playlists so you can watch them off­line on your smart­phones or tablets. You can also watch videos while you are us­ing other ap­pli­ca­tions such as email. Start­ing some­times next year, you’ll get “YouTube Orig­i­nals,” which will rep­re­sent ex­tra contents by pro­fes­sion­als, and could come in the form of re­al­ity se­ries or pop­u­lar tele­vi­sion shows. YouTube Orig­i­nals will also in­clude sched­uled pro­grams from big-time me­dia com­pa­nies like Time Warner or 21st Cen­tury Fox.

YouTube has man­aged to sign on most of the lead­ing in­de­pen­dent cre­ators, record la­bels, TV net­works, and movie stu­dios into the YouTube Red pro­gram. Thanks to Google’s arm-twist­ing and its use of the big stick: “Any part­nered creator who doesn’t sign the deal for YouTube Red will have their videos on the ad-free old-school YouTube hid­den from view.”

When you sub­scribe, your mem­ber­ship ex­tends across all your de­vices (smart­phones, tablets, desk­tops) and any­where you sign into YouTube. You will also have ac­cess to the re­cently launched Gam­ing app, as well as the new YouTube Mu­sic app that was also launched last week Wed­nes­day. YouTube Red works with Google Play Mu­sic, which means that when you sub­scribe to one, you au­to­mat­i­cally have the other.

While you pay $9.99 monthly on An­droid de­vices, the cost is $12.99 on iOS (iPad, iPhone), to cover Ap­ple’s in-app pur­chase tax. The launch date of 28 Oc­to­ber 2015 is for U.S. res­i­dents only; res­i­dents of other coun­tries will get ac­cess soon. In ad­di­tion, U.S. res­i­dents can try YouTube Red for free with a onemonth trial on Oc­to­ber 28.

The land­scape isn’t go­ing to be pretty for com­peti­tors like Ap­ple Mu­sic or Spo­tify. This is be­cause YouTube Red doesn’t just of­fer on­de­mand mu­sic, but every­thing on YouTube, with­out those an­noy­ing pre-roll and pop-over ads. Of course, Ap­ple Mu­sic and Spo­tify them­selves have made some progress on video; how­ever they don’t come close to YouTube. With YouTube Red, it would seem that com­peti­tors have al­ready lost. Ap­ple’s iTunes was very hot a few years ago; help­ing to pro­pel the com­pany to stardom from rel­a­tive ob­scu­rity. Now, iTunes and all that Ap­ple Mu­sic may as well be­long in the days of the di­nosaur, in the face of YouTube Red. You must love tech­nol­ogy for its trendi­ness.

As far as con­sumers are con­cerned, I ex­pect there will be two kinds of re­cep­tion. There will be those who feel that the in­tro­duc­tion of a paid ser­vice is rob, as th­ese folks prob­a­bly have their means of freely down­load­ing YouTube videos and playlists, any­way. Oth­ers, per­haps from the poorer de­vel­op­ing na­tions, may fret over the prob­lem of se­cur­ing the method of pay­ing for the ser­vice - credit or bank cards. The other per­spec­tive is typ­i­fied by what I am go­ing to do. With just $10 per month, I am pretty sure I’ll get on the sub­scrip­tion list for YouTube Red when it be­comes avail­able in two days. I’ll prob­a­bly get on an an­nual sub­scrip­tion to min­i­mize un­nec­es­sary risks (as­so­ci­ated with credit card pro­cess­ing) and the work­load. For me, the abil­ity to le­gally save videos and playlists to watch off­line is just too at­trac­tive to pass. In fact, it’s like ac­quir­ing all the videos in the world for $10, and you can do this “month-in-month-out.” Need­less to say I’m a bit sold on Red.

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