NEW YORK (Oct. 21, 2015) — YouTube peeled back the curtain on a paid version of the video site that doesn’t have any ads.
The site, owned by Google, introduced “YouTube Red,” a new subscription option that costs $10 a month and launches on October 28.
But you won’t lose access to the existing free version of YouTube. Red is a supplement.
Robert Kyncl, the company’s chief business officer, called it the “ultimate YouTube experience.”
Kyncl said “consumers are embracing paid subscriptions for ad-free content at an incredible pace.”
There are a few main benefits for subscribers: No ads, the ability to save videos for offline viewing, and access to YouTube and Google’s music streaming services.
There’s also an initial launch slate of 10 web shows that will only be available to paying subscribers.
“We have a lot more shows set to launch in 2016,” global head of original programming Susanne Daniels said on-stage at the press event.
With her remarks about investments in “landmark content,” she seemed to be inviting comparisons to Netflix and other subscription-based sites.
Subscriptions are a priority for YouTube because right now almost all of its revenues come from advertising. It is seeking to diversify its revenue streams by adding subscriptions, just as other major media companies have done.
The site’s executives have been exploring various subscription schemes for years.
Last fall YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said, “There’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads.”
Earlier this year the company honed in on this idea and reached out to high-profile video makers for help.
An April letter previewed plans for “an ad-free version of YouTube for a monthly fee.”
The letter asked creators to sign up and said it would “generate a previously untapped, additional source of revenue for you.”
In essence, YouTube users who want to avoid ads will be able to “opt out” and pay a fee instead.
Hulu, which is mainly known for hosting full-length TV episodes, recently introduced a $12-a-month ad-free option.
Netflix and Amazon’s streaming services have never had ads.