Unless you live under a rock, you know YouTube. You have probably used it. You may be even using it every day. Or, like me, you cannot imagine your life without it. YouTube is, after all, a great source of entertainment, knowledge (I like to say that, so I don’t feel guilty using it) and much needed cat and challenge videos. But it wants to be so much more than just a streaming service for user-generated content.
It all have started in late 2015 when YouTube Red was launched. It started off as a subscription service which allowed you to watch ad-free videos. But you could already do that if you knew how to add AdBlock to your browser. For $10 a month you could stop feeling guilty about ripping off the YouTubers (and YouTube) from their revenue. But in 2016, YouTube Red added about 30 original series to its repertoire (they made films too!). Your subscription gives you access to dramas, comedies or thrillers featuring well-known YouTubers, such as Rhett & Link from Good Mythical Morning, PewDiePie and Joey Graceffa.
But, truth be told, YouTube’s library is nowhere near those of Netflix or Amazon Prime. Numbers of subscription prove, that it’s not popular either. Red attracted 1.5 million subscribers. Amazon Prime’s offer is a better value for the money – $8.99 a month (or £7.99 a month) will get you a free next-day delivery with Amazon Instant Video “on the side”, which offers exclusive and original series, as well as other popular TV shows and films, (30,000 titles by the end 2012!). But nothing compares to the king of them all, Netflix. The biggest streaming service drew over 70 million subscribers worldwide. No surprise that Red lags behind its older brothers – it is only available in five countries. Living in the UK? Buy an episode for £1.89 each or a film for £5.99. Say what?! Even Red’s subscribers aren’t quite impressed with the content:
However, there is hope. YouTube has announced just a few days ago that it will be producing new original series which will be available for free. Obviously, same as all ordinary videos, they will be ad-supported and not a part of YouTube Red. These will include shows featuring both TV-born celebrities and beloved YouTube stars. The TV series will include a workout show with Kevin Hart, Demi Lovato’s “documentary”, a talent show from Ryan Seacrest, a behind-the-scenes show for fans of Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry Live Special and two series from YouTubers – The Super Slow Show by The Slow Mo Guys and a version 2.0 of Good Mythical Morning. Some viewers are excited about the new and star-studded direction that YouTube is heading. Others are quite the opposite:
Reportedly, YouTube is pouring millions of dollars into this new project, so they can take a bite out of television advertising budget. Johnson & Johnson has already become an exclusive sponsor of the talent show Best Cover Ever. Would these original series become as big of a hit as Netflix’s Orange is the New Black, Stanger Things or HBO’s Game of Thrones? If they are free – maybe? Who knows? Paid content did not turn out to be a huge success. Despite YouTube Red’s original series, Buddy System being the most demanded online show in March 2017, its popularity was nowhere near to that of The Walking Dead. So will YouTube ever become a TV’s or Netflix’s rival? I can’t see it happen – but it is a great alternative which provides you with content so different from other on-demand or live TV services. After all, I can’t imagine any other place for all the 1000 degree knife challenges.