YouTube Outlines Plans for $10-a-Month Subscription Service

YouTube made its entry into the SVOD fray official Wednesday, outlining its plans for a premium version of its site, YouTube Red, at a splashy event in Los Angeles.

Priced at $9.99 a month and available beginning Oct. 28, YouTube Red will allow users to surf the site completely ad-free, across multiple platforms. Original programming and movies will also be available to YouTube Red subscribers, beginning next year.

YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl detailed the rollout at a media briefing held at the company’s posh Spaces LA production facility, to press gathered in L.A. and viewing remotely in San Francisco and New York. Attendees of the live event sat at tiny café tables as Kyncl and several other YouTube executives, including Susanne Daniels, global head of original programming, spoke in front of a massive video wall on a pearly white stage.

“We’re just getting started. YouTube is betting big on original content,” Daniels said.

Leveraging the site's growing stable of digital stars, the original programming runs a fairly wide gamut, including Scare PewDiePie, a reality-comedy show featuring Felix Kjellberg (aka PewDiePie), getting thrown into scary, video game-inspired gags and situations.The Walking Dead’s Skybound Entertainment and Maker Studios are producing.

Also on the slate are a scripted spoof of the reality music genre called Sing It! from Fine Bros Entertainment and Mandeville Films; a zombie reality show from Alpine Labs called Fight of the Living Dead, a romantic drama from Wong Fu Productions and New Form Digital entitled Single by 30, and a feature-length concert film from YouTube singer/comedian Lilly Singh, A Trip to Unicorn Island.

“YouTube is like the best boyfriend I’ve ever had,” Singh told the crowd.  

Kyncl says YouTube Red is hoping to incubate material from its talent, similar to MTV in the late 80s and 90s. He hopes that specific talent pool will allow YouTube Red to distance itself from the glut of other digital VOD service that are cropping up, almost on a daily basis.

However, despite the push for original material, Kyncl said he doesn’t want to draw comparisons between YouTube Red and other digital VOD services, like Netflix or Amazon Prime. He believes YouTube Red and Netflix are “180 degrees opposite” of one another.

“This is our way of doing it,” he said. The audience YouTube Red is going after, he added, includes gamers and young women. That theme, plus pushing forward its own content creators, was established during the company's "Brandcast" event last spring at the NewFronts, which was timed to a promo campaign for YouTube stars that blanketed cities with bus-shelter ads and billboards and saw commercials running frequently in primetime.

Daniels said shows on the originals slate range in length from six-minute episodes to more traditional 22- and 44-minute shows and feature films. The shows appearing first via the YouTube Red service may be available elsewhere down the road, Kyncl said.

YouTube Red will also boast background streaming of videos and saving videos offline.

Included in the YouTube Red subscription is YouTube Music, a dedicated music app allowing seamless viewing of music video and audio recordings, as well as a Google Play subscription.