It has been more than two 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 Premium a try, we are here to tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly about YouTube Premium.
What is YouTube Premium?
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 a number of benefits, most notably the removal of 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, and a special student plan at $6.99. There is no annual plan available.
You will, of course, need to show some student verification for the cheaper plan. 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
If you regularly watch content on YouTube, most Premium subscription perks are as good as they sound. To start off, it is hard to understate how great the ad-free experience is. Many of us use ad blockers on our PCs, but advertisements are much harder to escape on mobile. With the implementation of double pre-roll and unskipabble 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 experience is truly ad-free too: there are no trailers for YouTube originals or anything of the sort.
Speaking of creators, however, YouTube Premium has another great advantage which 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.
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
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. They can viewed 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 there are some hidden gems like The Boy Band Con documentary, which I highly recommend. The Originals tabs itself doesn’t have the best design either, making it hard to discover new things to watch.
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 viewer, but it also supports your favorite creators.
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.