First, there was YouTube Red. Now there’s YouTube Premium, the channel’s second iteration of the popular paid-for subscription service that delivers ad-free YouTube videos and more to our screens. What’s it all about, and what part might it play in a comprehensive marketing strategy?

Exploring YouTube Premium – Feature-rich, ad-free content

YouTube Premium provides ad-free, feature-rich and enhanced experiences across multiple related platforms, namely YouTube itself, YouTube Music, YouTube Gaming, and YouTube Kids.

Because YouTube makes almost all of its money from advertising it needs to charge for ad-free content, something that we will probably see a lot more of as the internet continues to mature and consumer behaviour around adverts is better understood. The money also helps artists make money, which can only be a good thing.

The impact on the YouTube community was mixed at first, with some users hostile to an idea that flew in the face of the channel’s original intent to create and host content that was free for all to watch. But like many online players, YouTube must find ways to monetise itself to survive in the longer term. Rather than doing more and more extreme things to get noticed, the platform has followed the lead of its fellow paid content providers, copying an existing and very successful model.

As far as users go, Premium means no more hanging around waiting for adverts to finish before the content you want becomes available. Whenever or wherever you sign in from, the content you see will be ad-less. And that means content consumed via smart TVs as well as laptops, desktops, mobiles and tablets. You can save videos to watch when you can’t get online. You can play video content in the background uninterrupted, even when you have another app open. And it’s easy to explore ad-free content offline with the screen locked.

Why premium content is good for the quality

Quality is the most important buzzword of all when it comes to content. And let’s be honest, being required to watch an advert before being allowed to consume the content you love doesn’t add to the quality of the experience. And as a business, it makes good sense to equate your brand firmly with quality. Better still, uninterrupted viewing really is the holy grail of content, and plenty of people feel it’s worth paying for.

YouTube Music versus Spotify

So what about Spotify? Why would users choose YouTube Music over it? Spotify Premium is £9.99/month for a single user, the same as YouTube Premium. Their family plan is also the same price as YouTube Premium at £14.99 a month. As a student you can choose Spotify Student for £4.99 a month, which includes a basic ad-supporting Hulu subscription, and Spotify Premium bundles easily with basic Hulu for non-students at $12.99 a month. Spotify limits downloads to 3 devices and 3333 songs on each device.

YouTube’s alternative, the Music Premium family plan, is restricted to people aged over 13, the age you must be to have your own Google account. It strips out adverts and unlocks background and offline playback on the YouTube Music channel. But pay just £2 a month more, and you get the same ad-free experience on YouTube, YouTube Music, YouTube Kids, YouTube Gaming and YouTube VR thanks to Premium, which provides more premium features in Google Play Music as well as access to YouTube Originals.

About YouTube Originals

Think Netflix and Sky’s Walter Presents, and you get the picture. YouTube has also become a powerful content creator, with a constant stream of excellent dramas and movies to consume, all exclusive to the platform. We worked extensively on the first-ever European-centric YouTube Original Series – Jack Whitehall: Training Days, so we know exactly how popular it is. This gave us a glimpse into the high-quality and high budget capabilities YouTube now posses in their aim to compete in the current media market. With over 500,000 people quickly subscribing to Jack’s channel, it became clear how big an appetite the viewers have for this type of content on YouTube.

Is it worth paying for content on YouTube?

People vote with their feet, and it looks like they really are willing to pay for ad-free content on YouTube. By June 2017 the original YouTube Red service had clocked up an impressive 250 million views for the first season of YouTube Originals. That’s far too many to be a coincidence. We give YouTube Premium a big thumbs up from a user and marketing perspective. If you want your content to be seen by more people, it’s looking a lot like a winner.