YouTube premiered their first originals on February 10th in their new subscription service simply called YouTube Red. Amongst the originals, they have one series called Scare PewDiePie, starring YouTube’s most subscribed user PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg). The other originals (A Trip to Unicorn Island, Dance Camp, and Lazer Team) are featured films including other prominent YouTubers.
But while some of these shows sound interesting, will users sacrifice $10 dollars a month for the service just to watch them?
Maybe not right now, at least.
Because right now, aside from the originals YouTube just released, the only other notable benefit of getting YouTube Red (unless you’re into Google Play Music) is to get rid of the ads on YouTube videos. And while that feature transcends conveniently onto most logged in platforms for the user, is it enough for users to consider subscribing?
We don’t think so.
YouTube is asking its users to essentially buy the subscription with their eyes closed (though, to be fair, your first month is free). You may say Netflix is the same, but most users are not subscribed to Netflix solely for their originals. With YouTube Red, most users are going to subscribe just for the originals. At this point, if you don’t like one show, you literally only have a couple other shows to fall back on. And then when the originals have all been watched, what do you do then? Watch regular YouTube videos? The ones that are already free? Ad-less videos aren’t worth the $10 a month people would have to pay for the foreseeable future until another original pops up that the user might like.
YouTube has stated that within in the upcoming months, they will be releasing more originals – series and feature films alike. And while that’s great, we can’t see users really starting to pay for a subscription until YouTube’s catalog for original shows is padded and has lots to choose from.
Maybe we think like this because YouTube has always been free, and our brains are having a hard time processing that we now need to pay to see some of our favorite YouTubers on YouTube. And while we understand that YouTube is trying to retain their talent by providing them with the same opportunities television, Neflix, and etc have been offering them, it just doesn’t feel right.
YouTube also has to think about their audience. A lot of their audience is young – young in a way that they don’t even have a credit card. Those kids, and essentially YouTube, have to rely on the parents’ willingness to pay. Not to mention there will of course be users that might want to watch these shows but don’t have the resources to do so – like people from other countries or just the plain lack of extra money.
People not only turn to YouTube because it is free, but also because the youtubers make it relatable – a quality a viewer said that felt bereft when watching the originals. She goes on to say that “[her] biggest worry is that professionals taking over the production [will] affect how relatable the show is” because they seemed too polished than the creators usual content.
What this all boils down to, and what we feel like YouTube is failing to see, is that YouTube Red is probably going to isolate many communities and alienate the fanbases of the YouTubers they are giving these originals to. John Green, a notable YouTuber and supporter of YouTube Red, even noted his weariness of how the originals might affect the culture of YouTube in a recent video of his. Because, in a way, YouTube is creating an elitist group - a group that will separate the "true" viewers from the regular watcher, and it's disconcerting.
We love YouTube – it’s one of our favorite sites. We love our favorite YouTubers – we want to support them. But we don’t think this is the right way.