If you’re tired of watching commercials before every YouTube video, the YouTube team has a solution for you. It’s called YouTube Red, and it’s the subscription service that banishes all commercials from your YouTube experience. But is it worth your hard-earned money? Here’s our full review.
YouTube Red, of course, offers ad-free access to all of the videos on YouTube. You probably don’t need us to tell you how much stuff that is.
Your YouTube Red account will also banish the ads on YouTube’s new-ish Twitch competitor, YouTube Gaming.
YouTube Red will eventually have a bunch of original content that isn’t accessible of the old, free YouTube. The new shows are coming sometime next year, so we weren’t able to take them into account in this review. Your personal level of interest in the 10 shows that YouTube has announced will probably make a big difference in how valuable you think their service is.
Finally, your $10 YouTube Red subscription includes a full subscription to Google Play Music. That’s a different product altogether, but we will talk about it briefly below.
There are a couple of key user experience upgrades that you get with YouTube Red. The first, and probably the most significant, is that you can now save videos for offline viewing. This is a nice touch, and I wish I’d had it back when I used to commute on the subway! It’s a bit less necessary for those of us who rarely find themselves out of range of Wi-Fi, but it’s still a nice perk.
The second perk is that you can now get your YouTube videos to continue to play in the background after you hide the app on a mobile device (you’ll have to select this feature in your settings).
Those are nice but relatively small tweaks. The real user experience upgrade that comes with YouTube Red, of course, is the lack of ads. So how did it feel to browse YouTube without ads?
Well, it felt good, obviously! Before using YouTube Red, we weren’t sure how much of a difference an ad-free YouTube would make. And, to be fair, there wasn’t much of one when we watched short videos. But the difference was readily apparent on longer videos, which were no longer interrupted by ads part-way through.
The ad-free experience was particularly enjoyable when we were putting on something in the background, like white noise or streaming music. YouTube Red turns YouTube into a really reliable source for streaming music – which is kind of funny, considering that your subscription also includes Google Play Music, Google’s actual music streaming service!
Google Play Music
As a cord cutting site, we’re obviously more interested in the YouTube side of the YouTube Red subscription, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Google Play Music. Google Play Music is a competitor to Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, and the rest of the streaming music gang.
Google Play Music is a nice service, but we weren’t blown away. Music available for purchase is shown mixed in with the free tracks, of where there just aren’t enough. You can upload your personal music library (up to 50,000 tracks) and listen to it anywhere, which is nice. Google Play Music seems to be geared towards creating (and purchasing) your own library of tunes.
YouTube Red isn’t cheap. At $9.99 a month, it’s very comparable to a Netflix or Hulu subscription. But with so little content existing or planned for the exclusive area behind the paywall, it’s hard to justify the price from a video streaming perspective. We imagine the high price is driven by the inclusion of Google Play Music.
What did you say when you heard that YouTube was going to add a $9.99 ad-free option? If you’re like us, you said something along the lines of “that sounds nice, but it’s rather expensive.”
And if you did, you were right – or, at least, you were if you ignore the Google Play Music side of the equation. YouTube Red alone is a nice service but not worth the price tag. If you’re already interested in Google Play Music, we can tell you that getting YouTube Red will be a nice perk; but if you don’t need a music streaming service, we’d stop short of recommending that you pay for YouTube Red for the ad-free benefits alone.
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