Analysis: YouTube Red - First Look

YouTube Red - First Look

YouTube Red - First Look

  • Posted on: 20/Nov/15
  • by Simon Britton

As promised last week - I've been looking at YouTube Red and here's my first take. Quick recap - the service isn't available in Oz yet, costs $10 per month for ad free YouTube, comes bundled with Google Play Music (think Spotify killer) and Google Gaming, allows offline play and access to exclusive YouTube Originals content. So - what's the story? ~~

Look and Feel
If you are expecting new UI, branding, new features - nope. This early version looks just like the old one.

Exclusive Content - AWOL
If you are expecting a flurry of YouTube Originals - no luck. I was hoping to see at least some of the YouTube Originals slate (as described in our last bulletin) on display. After all - if YouTube is making a play for the SVOD space alongside the Nefllix/Hulu/Stan mob, then they should be banking on some punters signing up for the exclusive content. I could only see one ep of one of the promised Originals slate on display, plus a couple of teasers. Disappointing!

Offline and background mode?
Well it could be there but I couldn't see how to do it.

Google Play Music subscription
There's no obvious way of accessing this from YouTube Red. The option of a Content Console for switching platforms would have been a very cool feature. So logging in separately to Music with another tab launches a Pandora-like interface which leads to some great "radios" put together from a self-selection of genres. This interface could be a real Spotify killer and to my ears the sound quality was better. That might be worth the price of the subs right there and of course it too, is ad-free.

Gaming I'm not a gamer, so this part of the offer passed me by - sorry all gamers! Maybe someone would like to report?

In summary
All the videos are ad free and that is delightful. I didn't realise how irksome it was to skip the TrueView ads.
YouTube is clearly banking on the ad-free experience and the bonus of Google Play Music to lure customers into parting with $10 at this early stage. Is it enough? Personally I feel a bit let down. I really want the new model to work for content creators, but Red seems a bit un-ready.

About the author

  • Simon Britton

    Simon Britton

    Simon is screen industry consultant and publisher of Australia’s leading online screen content ebulletin ScreenPro ( Before launching MediaWave in 2008, he worked for the Australian Film, TV and Radio School’s Centre for Screen Business, focusing on emerging business models for online screen content. He has consulted to, or written research papers for, the South Australian Film Corporation, Screen Australia, Film Victoria and The Australian Film TV and Radio School. He's delivered workshops for SPAA, The Media Resource Centre, Open Channel, RMIT, Monash University, UCLA Film School and AFTRS. He is currently running national workshops on new models of finance and online distribution for screen content. He recently concluded a three-year term on the Board of the Australian Screen Institute (AFI). He is on the Board of Open Channel. Simon consults on film projects and is currently working with a range of content creators to develop strategies for online delivery of their work.