YouTube launches ad-free Red subscription service

YouTubeRedYouTube has unveiled YouTube Red, a new pay-monthly offering that lets viewers access an ad-free version of the service and watch videos offline on phones and tablets.

Susan WojcickiThe US$9.99 per-month offering also lets users play videos in the background on mobile devices and launches in the US next week.

YouTube Red subscriptions apply to the full YouTube service and will also work across the new, forthcoming YouTube Music app and the recently launched YouTube Gaming app.

“Starting early next year, YouTube Red will get even better with member-only access to new, original shows and movies from some of YouTube’s biggest creators,” said YouTube senior product manager, Matt Leske, announcing the service.

The original content line-up will feature some of YouTube’s biggest stars and channels and include Scare PewDiePie, a reality-adventure series staring the popular videogame vlogger, and Sing It!, a scripted comedy from YouTube creators Fine Brothers Entertainment and Mandeville Films.

Other originals set to appear on YouTube Red are: Lazer Team, an action-comedy film from Rooster Teeth and Fullscreen Films; A Trip to Unicorn Island another feature from the team at Astronauts Wanted; and an as-yet untitled reality-adventure series starting YouTube star Joey Graceffa.

“With YouTube Red, you’ll be able to support the people who make your favourite videos while watching what you want, when you want, on any device you want, uninterrupted,” said Leske.

“The free, ad-supported version of YouTube we all know and love isn’t going anywhere. You’ll still be able to enjoy YouTube, along with the YouTube Kids, Gaming and Music apps free of charge,” he added.

YouTube said it is working to bring YouTube Red and its YouTube Music, Gaming and Kids apps to more countries soon. The new YouTubeMusic app will launch in the US “soon” and is designed to make “discovering, watching and listening to music easier than ever.”

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki (pictured) first hinted at YouTube’s subscription plans at a conference in the US last October, when she said that while YouTube’s ad-supported approach has allowed it to build massive scale, “there’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads.”

Vimeo, which has a longstanding paid-for service expressed scepticism that its rival can crack the pay model. It noted most of YouTube core teen audience do not have a credit card to enable them to sign up, and the revenue model is not flexible for content creators.

Vimeo CEO, Kerry Trainor said:  “There is power in a single channel offering like YouTube’s, but we believe there is better way to empower creators to share in the revenue they generate vs. having to compete solely for play count.”