YouTube Red, the $9.99 per month subscription that gives you the best version of the streaming service. And while I'm sure somebody's asking "Hey! YouTube is already free, why should I pay?" I've got five solid reasons that will have you ready to sign up today. Image: Yeamake / Shutterstock.com
Before you even think about the fee, realize this: Google offers a 1-month free trial for new users to kick the tires. So, let's dive into why you should sign up for YouTube Red today, and happily pay for it, without complaint.
If you're like me and the other billion-plus YouTube video watchers, you've come to rely on the service as a super-channel that provides an amazingly wide variety of content on your schedule. In my experience, it goes above and beyond that, offering incredibly well-targeted recommendations, a skill every other service tried, and failed, to impress me with.
But none of this works as well without YouTube Red.
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YouTube Red, for those who missed the surprisingly small amount of promotion Google gave it, is a $9.99 per month subscription that includes exclusive content from major YouTubers and a free account with Google Play Music (its very-good Spotify competitor). Most importantly, though, YouTube Red allows you to watch all the YouTube you want, without ever seeing a single damn ad. This means no ads across all YouTube apps, including the ones for your SmartTV, set-top box and smartphone.
I don't hate ads in a broad sense, but if there's an acceptable way to pay them away? I'll do that just to never have to see a boring and uninspired Geico ad again.
And without ads, YouTube sings with the strength of the greatest choir ever. You click on videos and they start. No pauses, no interruptions, no nothing. Just the videos you want. It should be that simple right?
Oh and with YouTube Red, ad-free actually means ad-free. What do I mean? Try getting the $11.99 No Commercials package from Hulu and watching shows such as How to Get Away With Murder and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and you'll see ads every time. With YouTube Red, you won't deal with any annoying asterisks due to contractual agreements or whatever Hulu's excuse is.
No matter where I watch YouTube, from my work computer to my Apple TV to my smartphone, I never see ads. And I'd know if YouTube Red had any similar loopholes or exemptions, as I watch hours upon hours of content on it every week. It's the perfect network for me, always providing enough content, and never ruining it with ads.
Anyone who doesn't have an unlimited data plan or uses a commute that sends them on paths without cell reception knows that Save For Offline is one of the best phrases in technology. With YouTube Red, you get a download icon below every video that you can tap to save the clip for later.
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This way, you can keep a handful of your favorite music videos on hand for your next dance break, or do what I do, and save the video versions of your favorite podcasts at home so you're not limited to the audio only versions on the go.
I didn't get YouTube Red by subscribing to it, but instead through my existing subscription to Google Play Music (also $9.99 per month), the least-buzzed-about Spotify competitor, which is just as good as the industry leader or Apple Music. That's right, all Google Play Music subscribers get YouTube Red, and all YouTube Red subscribers get Google Play Music. Win-Win.
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The Google Play Music library offers just as many songs as Spotify, plus it includes a cloud locker service, so MP3 collectors can access their rarities anywhere, with up to 50,000 uploads. The service isn't limited to just songs, though, as Google Play Music's recently added podcasts, so you can pack all of your listening needs into a single app.
In fact, Google plans to bridge the gap between YouTube Red and Google Play Music in the near future. During a panel session for the New Music Seminar conference in New York, YouTube's head of music Lyor Cohen told audiences that the company is looking into “combining YouTube Red and Google Play Music, and having one offering," answering a question about the company's plans to boost YouTube Red's popularity.
When I'm using only my smartphone or my tablet, the odds always favor a notification popping up on my device that pulls me into my email, my Twitter mentions or my texts. Without YouTube Red, videos stop playing whenever I switched into a different app.
Now that I use YouTube Red, if I'm OK with just hearing the sound of a video, it will keep playing in the background as I compose a reply. This also comes in handy with mobile games with background music I'm not fond of, as I can mute the game and have sound from YouTube blasting instead.
If names like PewDiePie, Lilly Singh and Rooster Teeth make you want to click Subscribe or Play as fast as you can, then I'm surprised you're not already a YouTube Red member. These and more artists produce original content that is exclusive to the paid tier of YouTube, which means you're not getting all of the laughs, surprises and action from these creators as possible. Image: Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com
There's a cure for that FOMO (Editors' Note: fear of missing out) you're feeling: subscribe to YouTube Red today!
That YouTube Red subscription isn't going to start itself. If you're worried about spending money accidentally, set a reminder in your calendar app for one month from today. Have it say "is ad-free YouTube worth it?" Or "how great is it that I can keep YouTube videos for offline viewing?" By the time your month-long trial is up, you'll know the answers, and if you're as voracious a YouTube user as I am, you won't have any problem letting the subscription continue.
If you're checking out the Google Home (which costs $50 less than an Amazon Echo) think about using that extra money for a Chromecast (starting at $35), which will connect the Home to YouTube on your TV. Combining those two products allows you to taste the streaming nirvana that I couldn't live without.