More than a billion people visit YouTube’s video site every month. Seth Rosenblatt/CNET
NEW YORK — Online video giant YouTube has unveiled a paid service that strips out its ads for $10 a month.
The new YouTube Red is an alternative to the free, ad-based service, which remains an option.
“The YouTube you know and love continues to thrive and will continue to thrive,” Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl said Wednesday at a presentation for members of the press. “We have been working on bringing a whole new experience to fans … a new way to experience YouTube without ads.”
The new tier asks the more than 1 billion people who visit YouTube to alter their assumptions about the worth of online video. By putting a dollar value on a site that was free with advertising for a decade, parent Google is showing it believes consumers are willing to pay for content and perks.
YouTube Red serves all of YouTube’s videos without ads, and it lets members save videos to watch offline on their phone or tablet as well as play videos in the background. It also includes original shows and movies by top YouTube talent that are exclusive to the subscription. Membership extends across devices and YouTube apps, including the YouTube Gaming app and a new YouTube Music app the company will make available soon.
Viewers in the US can try YouTube Red for free for one month starting October 28.
The company, which is the Internet’s biggest video site, also touted a parade of some the site’s most popular talent who are releasing movies and shows for Red members. “Scare PewDiePie” is a reality horror series that plunks the site’s most-subscribed video creator, Felix Kjellberg (39.8 million followers), into terrifying situations inspired by video games. “A Trip to Unicorn Island” is a movie that follows creator Lilly Singh, known as Superwoman (6.9 million channel subscribers), on her world tour. “Sing It!” is a scripted series about a fictional singing competition from the Fine Brothers, best known for their “Kids React to…” franchise of videos.
“This is where we want to be,” Benny Fine, one of the brothers, said. The future of premium entertainment crosses different ways to watch, he said. “Only YouTube is set to do that.”
Los Angeles-based YouTube tested the waters with subscriptions last year. In November, it rolled out a pilot version of YouTube Music Key, a $10-a-month service that let members watch music videos and listen to songs on YouTube without ads. The service has been invitation-only so far, and it has yet to actually charge members, as the company has extended it as a free trial.
YouTube also unveiled a dedicated music app. It will be free to download and use, but a YouTube Red membership removes ads and lets members play music in the background and offline. The company said the the YouTube Music Key pilot taught it that people didn’t want to use its features on just music — they wanted to use them across all of YouTube.