When YouTube revealed YouTube Red, the long-awaited ad-free subscription version of its popular Internet video service, people were intrigued. They were also confused.
Viewers wondered whether they would be forced to pay to get access to their favorite videos. Video creators who had come to rely on revenue from YouTube advertising wondered whether they would make less money. And, well, there was the name.
YouTube, now a ten-year-old service, is a sprawling network of creators, advertisers, various middlemen, and 1 billion-plus viewers—a range of players both big and small, all with different motivations. And now that the initial excitement around the launch of YouTube Red has died down, all of them are trying to figure out where they stand on the world’s biggest video platform.
They have reason to be optimistic. If YouTube Red succeeds, it could mean a better YouTube for everyone. Creators could have more control over their content. The middlemen who support them could make more money. Viewers get to watch YouTube without ads. And, it turns out, getting rid of ads on YouTube in favor of $9.99-a-month subscriptions could wind up being better for YouTube itself.