YouTube Red and Other Rantings

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

YouTube has just announced it's new "YouTube Red", which is set to roll out on October 28th, just seven days from now. I must admit, I'm deeply terrified of what this means for content creators and the future of YouTube.

For those of you who don't know, YouTube Red will be a paid subscription service of $9.99 per month, and it includes features such as no advertisements and offline watching. Let me be clear, you do not have to pay for the service to continue enjoying YouTube content. At first it seems like a good deal, right? Especially for someone who watches a lot of YouTube and gets sick of the ads. However, looking past the surface, what does this mean for my favorite content creators? Many content creators use ad revenue from their videos to sustain themselves, YouTube is their job. Sure, many of them do paid sponsorships, but for the most part they also rely heavily on the income they expect from ad revenue on their videos. How does this work for them?

EDIT: I have since been informed of the payment system and will relay that here:

Let’s say I subscribe to YouTube Red, paying $9.99 (I’m going to round to $10 here to make the math simple to understand)

45% goes to YouTube, that’s $4.50
55% goes to content creators, that’s $5.50

Now that money will be split amongst the YouTuber’s determined by what percentage of my total watch time was devoted to them. Let’s say over the course of a month I watch:
Connor Franta: 15 minutes
Danisnotonfire: 15 minutes
Hannah Hart: 10 minutes
Jack Howard: 5 minutes
(and so on but im going to use these numbers)
So I’ve watched a total watch time of 45 minutes. 33% was Connor, 33% is Dan, 22% is Hannah, and 1% is Jack. Under this new system, that means Connor will receive 33% of my payed subscription ($1.80), Dan also receives that much ($1.80), Hannah receives 22% ($1.21), and Jack receives 1% ($.05).
In the old system each content creator was paid equally based on number of views. People were upset with that system because it encouraged click baiting titles. They’ve changed the system, only this time it will encourage longer videos and more uploads that aren’t necessarily relevant or interesting to watch.
Additionally, my reservations about this system is that it will harm small YouTuber’s very much. You’re all worried about the huge famous ones, but trust me, YouTube is looking out for them here and they stand to gain a lot of money off of this system. However, smaller YouTuber’s (like, under a million subs) who are trying to make a name for themselves and make a career out of YouTube will not thrive in this system. This system promotes people who play the “YouTube game”. It promotes fandom culture and the “teenage heart throb” culture.

Going back to my original point about YouTube Red, you may be thinking "okay, whatever, I just won't sign up and then everything will stay the same". Well, they have you covered there. They are also rolling out a new feature called "YouTube Originals". This seems to be YouTube's attempt at copying Netflix by making it's own "original" content. It appears the only way you can view this content is if you are subscribed to YouTube Red. They have announced a slate of YouTube creators and content due to come out on the platform starting next year.

This brings up some more very alarming questions for me:

The announced projects, with more being announced soon.
1. How does YouTube decide whose projects to invest in? In the past, the viewers have always chosen the content they want to see, funded kickstarters for the creators they wanted to see make cool stuff. While it's awesome that YouTube is investing in their creators, how do they decide who gets the

2. Since you can only view these with the paid subscription service, I'm assuming the content creators aren't making money based on views with this system. So they are investing in the creators, but they aren't giving them the revenue they deserve per view after they've made their return on investment? Hardly seems fair to the content creator.

3. I am very skeptical of the content they have slated already. It is predominantly vloggers or "big names" within YouTube. I see almost no short films, art films, short series. It seems most of the content is the "big whigs" doing docu type films or big names doing overly done and cliched projects.

4. The wording and marketing of this entire ordeal is quite terrifying and patronizing. "Original series and movies from your favorite stars". Favorite stars? Is that how we are going to start referring to them? The entire point of YouTube is that we are all nerds with video cameras, we are all the same and all have potential on the platform. YouTube is very obviously trying to brand their largest creators as these "teen heart throbs" and "internet sensations". And while some of the content creators certainly are those things, a lot of YouTube's demographic isn't in the "teenage screaming" category, and it kind of feels like YouTube doesn't care about us anymore.

Headline from YouTube's official announcement

5. It would appear YouTube is only investing in people with huge subscriber counts. What does this mean for smaller YouTubers? Small YouTuber's already have the shitty end of the stick as it is - the algorithm works against them, they are drowning in a sea of other creators, and they don't make enough to make YouTube a full time job so they have outside jobs/responsibilities. It seems YouTube's priority very clearly lies with the big creators, and this new system seems like it will make it even harder for smaller content creators to make the jump into being full time YouTubers.

(I'm going to write a separate blog post about why that is a terrible business move on YouTube's part in a different post so stay tuned)

Overall, this new YouTube Red and YouTube Originals project seems like a terrible idea that is going to lead to the destruction of the YouTube system. We have said for a long time that changes need to be made, but I don't think these are the types of changes any of us were looking for. I'll wait till the platform actually rolls out and then re-evaluate from there, but for now I am skeptical and scared of what this means for the future of YouTube and the YouTube community.

If you want to read YouTube's official announcements, you can visit here or here.


  1. yuck this was such a bad move for yt :/ this post was really well written though :)

  2. yikes @ youtube :(( great post though, very well written


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