Going down the YouTube rabbit hole can be frustrating. You want to catch up on last night’s late show or check out a few sports highlights, but you soon find yourself trapped in mind-numbing loop of annoying advertisements. It can bad enough to make you think your pay-TV bundle is a great deal.
But the ads are there for a reason: content producers deserve to get paid. It might not matter as much for the big companies who throw their stuff on YouTube merely for exposure; but for video bloggers and other independent creators, it can mean the difference between making a living and going back to their day jobs.
Google thinks it has the answer for both viewers and content producers: YouTube Red, a $10-per-month subscription service that grants you ad-free access to virtually all of YouTube’s video vault. YouTube Red works anywhere you encounter YouTube videos: youtube.com, embedded videos across the web, and within YouTube’s Android and iOS apps.
In addition to that, your subscription also includes the unlimited version of Google Play Music (and if you already have a paid subscription to that service, you now have access to YouTube Red, too). More on that later.
Here’s what you get
In addition to Google Play Music and ad-free videos, you get two other goodies with a YouTube Red subscription: First, when watching on a mobile device, you can save videos offline so you can watch them even when you don’t have an Internet connection. Second, videos will continue to play in the background even if you lock your mobile device or switch to another app.
Those features are the outgrowth of YouTube Music Key Beta, which Google rolled out last year as a trial run at how it might reinvent YouTube. The company provided the same offline access and background playing, while eliminating advertisements on music videos.
I’ve been a Play Music subscriber since day one, and I really came to appreciate the ability to save a video offline or to keep a song playing while zipping over to another app. Be aware, however, that you’ll need to hop into the settings to enable background play; by default, YouTube kicks it on only if your device is connected to headphones or a speaker.
But YouTube Red feels liberating: there’s no dreading an irritating advertisement every time I go to launch a new video. It’s made me go to YouTube more often to seek out a how-to video or to just glance at the various subscription channels. I know I’m a member of the “in” crowd now, so I’m more apt to spend time there.
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