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What is YouTube Red? When is it coming to the UK?

Seth Barton
10 Feb 2016
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Online video giant takes on Amazon and Netflix with new paid-for membership

I've long said that YouTube can replace your TV. Now it looks like YouTube wants to replace your Netflix subscription as well. YouTube Red, announced last night in the US, is the subscription service that has long been rumoured but never quite materialised. With the new service Google is not only taking its first step against Netflix and Amazon, but also challenging Spotify and Apple Music as well.

Price and release date

That's because the new service, priced at $9.99 per month includes Google Play Music at no additional cost - making it something of a bargain. That puts it in head-to-head competition with Spotify and all the other $10 music services, except of course with those you only get audio, while YouTube also provides practically every music video ever made along with all that other content.

There's no UK price confirmed yet, Google could charge £10 to match Spotify but we're hoping that it goes for a more reasonable £7.49, the same price as the HD version of Netflix.

YouTube Red will launch in the US on October 28th. Unfortunately there's no UK launch date announced yet. Although Google is promising to announce worldwide prices and dates soon. It's a bit disappointing, especially given that Youtube's biggest single star PewDiePie is actually based in the UK, though we're sure Google will find a way to sort him out with an account!

The latest news on a UK release date is that YouTube signed a deal in January with PRS, which represents 115,000 creative music types in the UK. Such a deal helps pave the way for any paid subscription deal (such as YouTube Red) to launch here, by agreeing on a cut for artists and songwriters of all that music you'll be enjoying via YouTube. So we're all one step closer to YouTube Red in the UK but no announcement yet!

Just want music, check out the best streaming music services

Youtube Red features

Subscribing to YouTube Red gives you access to some incredibly handy features, including some that regular users have been shouting for. The big one is undoubtedly Ad-free playback on all videos, so now you can enjoy all your favourite Youtubers without interruption. Of course this has caused something of ruckus amongst content creators but Google seems confident that the new funding model won't disrupt current earnings, or jeopardise the future of content creators.

You'll also be able to save any video to your smartphone or tablet to watch offline later. This is great move, meaning you can watch what you want, when you want, without having to mess about with ripping videos and saving them locally. You can also get videos to play in the background, so you can keep listening to your show while you quickly reply to an email or check something online.

YouTube is also upping its game with higher-budget Exclusive Red Originals, from the likes of PewDiePie, the Fine Brothers, Rooster Teeth and CollegeHumor. These are a savvy move, elevating its biggest home-grown stars, keeping them on the service, and giving their huge fanbases an immediate reason to upgrade to the new service. 

Will it work?

This is a big step for the Google-owned site. With Amazon rolling its Prime Instant Video service into its other products including its vast retail empire and Kindle Store, and Netflix offering some incredibly high-quality original content, Google needed a unique way to get users to pay for its video service, and it's managed to do so on several fronts. 

YouTube is starting from an incredibly strong position: it already has millions of videos produced by its users, so it doesn't have to start from scratch; people already know what YouTube offers and there's something for pretty much everyone already uploaded. Busting through ads with a subscription fee is something a lot of people are going to be interested in, as is the ability to watch offline and in the background, but it's the two-in-one deal of videos and music that will really appeal.

If Google can get its young userbase to subscribe today, it could become a goliath in a few year's time.

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