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It has been more than three years since YouTube Premium launched. First known as YouTube Red, the service is now bundled with YouTube Music Premium and offers a bunch of perks for a better viewing and listening experience. However, even though the service has matured over the years, YouTube Premium hasn’t exactly exploded in popularity. The relentless sign-up pop-ups certainly didn’t help, but there are solid arguments in favor of subscribing.

So, if you are yet to give YouTube Premium a try, we are here to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly about the service.

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What is YouTube Premium?

Z Flip YouTube Premium Samsung Unpacked 2020

YouTube is the largest video-sharing platform on the web, with plenty of free content for your viewing pleasure. So, why is there a premium version, and what does it offer?

YouTube Premium is the platform’s paid subscription service. It replaced YouTube Red and comes with several benefits, most notably removing all ads across YouTube services. Here is everything you get with YouTube Premium:

  • Ad-free videos — no annoying ad breaks on any content on any device logged into your Premium account.
  • Background play — you can listen to long videos, podcasts, and music with your screen locked.
  • Offline playback — you can download videos for later offline viewing.
  • YouTube Music Premium — ad-free access to the dedicated music app and its catalog of millions of songs.
  • YouTube Originals — ad-free Originals and access to exclusive premium content.

It’s worth noting that although YouTube Originals used to be exclusive for Premium subscribers, many are now available for everyone. Granted, the only way to watch them ad-free is with YouTube Premium.

How much is YouTube Premium?

Surely by now, you’ve seen the pop-ups for a free month trial of YouTube Premium, but how much does it cost once the trial is up?

There are three different plans available, with the standard plan costing $11.99 a month. There’s also a more expensive family plan at $17.99. A special student plan at $6.99 is also available. There is no annual plan available.

You will, of course, need to show some student verification for the cheaper plan, which includes an extended two-month free trial in addition to the discounted rate.The family plan supports up to five family members in the same household, making it the best value for those with kids or larger families.

Here are those plans again in brief:

  • Standard: $11.99/mo
  • Family: $17.99/mo
  • Student: $6.99/mo

What we like

YouTube Music on smartphone stock photo 4
Edgar Cervantes / Android Authority

If you regularly watch content on YouTube, most Premium subscription perks are as good as they sound. To start, it is hard to understate how great the ad-free experience is until you’ve tried it. Many of us use ad blockers on our PCs, but advertisements are much harder to escape on mobile. And frankly, they pay for the content you watch, so it’s nice to find a way to skip them without that harming creators.

With the implementation of double pre-roll and unskippable ads, YouTube Premium’s ad-free experience is pretty much a necessity for anyone that spends a significant amount of time on the platform. 

Watching your favorite creators on the big screen of your TV when casting or using the smart TV app is also a lot more pleasant without constant interruptions. The Premium experience is truly ad-free: there are no trailers for YouTube originals or anything of the sort.

Speaking of creators, however, YouTube Premium has another great advantage that is not mentioned enough: revenue sharing. A Premium subscription supports the YouTubers you love because YouTube shares a portion of the revenue for every view they receive from subscribers. This supposedly includes demonetized videos too.

The good stuff doesn’t end there, however. The access to Premium YouTube Music included in your subscription is underrated, to say the least. The service has a huge catalog of songs. I was personally able to find every obscure song I could think of. Even if some weren’t available as song files, I could still listen to the music videos with my screen locked.

Related: YouTube Music vs Spotify: Can Google even compete?

The variety of genres and artists would please even the most snobby music fans. For them, a YouTube Premium subscription could be worth it for the tunes alone. It only costs $2 more per month than Spotify Premium, with additional YouTube perks to boot.

What YouTube Premium needs to improve

Logo of YouTube Originals

When YouTube Red first launched, all of the marketing seemed to be focused on original content. All of your favorite YouTubers but with bigger budgets — who wouldn’t want that? Unfortunately, YouTube still hasn’t delivered in this area. Nowadays, most originals are not exclusive to Premium subscribers. You can watch them with ads on a free account, but the quality seems to be deteriorating. The platform also looks to be pushing YouTubers aside in favor of celebrities.

This is unfortunate because YouTube seems to be squandering the potential of its existing creators. We have already seen how well some of them could do with bigger budgets. Mind Field, a documentary series by Michael from Vsauce, is the perfect example. Vsauce was already well-known for its fascinating scientific content, and Mind Field allowed Michael to dive deeper into issues by conducting experiments, interviewing experts, and more. It made for an intriguing and entertaining series.

Today, YouTube could easily repeat its success by collaborating with channels such as Kurzgesagt, Crash Course, or even someone like the Angry Video Game Nerd. Instead, we have series like Celebrity Substitute and Create Together With Me with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Even if you don’t mind the celebrity videos, Originals are sometimes easy to miss. Although I have been subscribed to Premium for a few months, I rarely get recommendations for Originals, and few, if any, have popped up on my home page. That’s a shame because some hidden gems like The Boy Band Con documentary are highly recommended. The Originals tab isn’t designed well either, making it hard to discover new things to watch.

Related: Forget Netflix, watch these free movies on YouTube instead

Finally, the other major qualm some users might have with YouTube Premium is its price. If you are not taking advantage of YouTube Music Premium, it’s hard to justify spending $11.99 a month for an ad-free experience and some original content. Especially after spending a decade or more watching most of it for free.

Is YouTube Premium worth it?

If you are looking for a Netflix or Hulu substitute, the answer is no. However, if you want a more than decent music streaming service and a better viewing experience on YouTube, you can’t go wrong with YouTube Premium. It not only makes videos more enjoyable for you as a viewer, but it also supports your favorite creators.

See also: The best video streaming services

So, if you haven’t tried it yet, next time you see the annoying prompt, don’t ignore it and test the service for yourself. You might find that you actually like it. Or hit the button below to sign up now.