YouTube Red is YouTube’s first foray into a paid subscription service. The company which launched over ten years ago has since dominated the online video space and was bought in a lucrative deal by Google in 2006. The service which rose to prominence through ease of access and entirely free content announced the start of its subscription service back in October. And since its launch it hasn’t had too much to offer, with its main selling points being that it brings video content ad-free and free access to new YouTube Red originals. This is where the controversy starts, as ad-blocker apps and add-ons have been available since they started running ads on videos.
YouTube – the home of millions of cat videos via GIPHY
Surveys suggest that ad-blocker is used on nearly half of all users, meaning that ads don’t run on any videos that those people visit. However this works fundamentally differently to turning over during a TV ad, as the actual channel that made or uploaded the video doesn’t get paid for the view, as the advert never ran. This means that on average YouTubers lose out on half of their potential ad earnings.
So the problem with this aspect of YouTube Red is that the people who use ad-blocker don’t want to pay to skip ads as they already have that ability and those who don’t probably don’t mind ads. And people who don’t mind watching a 30 second advert don’t care enough to pay for a service which skips it. So seemingly this aspect of the service hasn’t sold people on the idea as much as YouTube would like.
So perhaps YouTube Red’s original content would help people bite the bullet. February saw the release of the first four in hopefully a growing line up of home-grown content. The originals which comprise of shows from various YouTube superstars such as Pewdiepie and Superwoman. Arguably the biggest of these releases is Rooster Teeth’s first film Lazer Team which was released in February after a small but very successful theatrical run. The reason Lazer Team could be considered the most important release on YouTube Red is that it’s the only one of the releases that has crossed over into mainstream attention. Getting reviews from Variety and RogerEbert.com. However this still may have not been enough to put YouTube Red on the map for many of the originals were reviewed harshly, dampening hopes for mainstream success.
At the end of the day the fate and future of YouTube Red is purely speculation as it is still in its early infancy, with many changes and new shows on the horizon. However the content platform could still simply be dead on arrival.