YouTube Premium: The Subscription That Should Be Free

Article idea and main base vision written by: Susan Metz


Lillian Miller, Magic man

  We’re not strangers to YouTube. You have one, I have one, your parents have one, your dog might even have one. It has provided us with so much good over the years. The first successful video platform of its kind, YouTube was formed by three former PayPal employees back in 2005 and is currently owned by Google, acting as an official subsidiary of the massive conglomerate.


  YouTube provides us with our everyday content: our music videos, our Vine/meme compilation playlists, our cute animal videos, Let’s Play channels, DIY channels, etc. But for all the good that YouTube has done, it has also come under fire in the past and has an unfortunate reputation of making poor marketing decisions which directly affect both its content creators, and its target demographic. The most recent of these blights is known as YouTube Premium.


  YouTube Premium, formerly known as YouTube Red, is a paid subscription service ($11.99 a month with an extra $6 per month to add up to five family members after the initial month trial) which allow you access to YouTube Originals, ad free videos, and best of all, background compatibility.


  At first, this seems fairly reasonable. Ads, for example, are a necessary evil. They can be long and annoying and keep you from your content, but the companies who make those ads pay enormous amounts of money to have them made, and have them played. But YouTube has taken this to the extreme lately as they’ve been bogging down nearly every single video with at least one ad, and, often, it’s the same ads over and over again. 


  Sometimes the ads will be longer than the video you are trying to watch, sometimes they play ads one right after the other, and sometimes they stick an ad or two at the end of the video that takes over your screen and prevents you from exiting the video to move on to something else unless you click the exit button (though that problem is exclusive to mobile users). 


  And then there’s the background compatibility. This, by far, should not be something that you have to pay for. YouTube Originals? Fine. Ad blocker? Under protest, but okay, fine. Videos in the background so you can lock the screen of your phone and still hear what’s going on? That should be an automatic given.


  Arguably one of YouTube’s biggest draws is the wide variety of musical libraries that it has access to. Entire albums, official music videos, twenty-four hour Live radio stations, etc. Thousands of people use those services every single day, yet they can’t lock their screens and keep the music on? 


  Not only is Spotify a direct competitor, has a slightly lower subscription cost ($9.99 a month) and acts very similar to YouTube Premium but with a few minor differences. Even without the premium subscription, Spotify still allows playback so you can still listen to your music (albeit with ads) even when your screen is off or if you jump to another app. This is incredibly important, especially nowadays when it’s important to promote hands-off driving. You can still listen to music on YouTube while you drive without a subscription, but your screen needs to be constantly unlocked and the app, and therefore, the video, needs to be constantly up and provides an easy and hazardous distraction for drivers. 


  It can actually be dangerous if you don’t pay for YouTube Premium; which is asinine and results in two problems. One, it shy’s consumers away from YouTube and makes them more likely to go to Spotify, and two, assuming that YouTube decides that implement the playback feature without a subscription, it then makes YouTube Premium a completely pointless subscription as not many people would be willing to pay nearly twelve dollars a month simply for access to ad free videos and some original content.


The solution? Abolish YouTube Premium and include all of its features in basic YouTube.


  YouTube Premium was a terrible idea. Such a high price for such little content on top of locking away basic functions of the app which should be free to its users. YouTube, as mentioned before, is known for making terrible business decisions, and YouTube Premium is no exception.