Google has cranked up the annoyance factor on YouTube lately. The app now has frequent and annoying pop-overs and ads promoting YouTube Premium. It’s not that I don’t want to pay, but I don’t want to pay for the Premium service bundle.
YouTube Premium is a bundled subscription service priced roughly the same as Netflix and double that of Disney+. You get access to YouTube Original shows, a music streaming service, and you pay the creators you watch from your subscription. Premium subscribers don’t see any ads on the service.
YouTube is a near-monopoly when it comes to streaming video from individual and small niche creators. An ad-free subscription to support your favorite creators makes a lot of sense. It’s a more sure-fire deal than premium video streaming services like Hulu, Disney+, and Netflix.
There are some unanswered questions regarding how much creators get out of the deal, however. It takes almost no money at all per minute-watched to outperform any potential ad-revenue. It’s also a more reliable business for creators and YouTube alike.
YouTube doesn’t give you any transparency as to how much each of the creators you watch gets from your subscription. It also doesn’t put a hard number on how much of your monthly subscription goes to creators.
This last point is my main problem with YouTube Premium. I don’t want a music streaming service. I hardly ever listen to music on YouTube. I don’t want a fixed cut of my money going to the beasts of the music industry.
I’m not interested in any of the YouTube Original shows. YouTube has another audience in mind for those shows and that’s fine. YouTube’s value to me is in the creators and channels I already follow.
I’ve already found my favorite channels on YouTube. What I want from a Premium subscription is just to get rid of the ads while still supporting my favorite creators. I can install an ad-blocker extension to hide the ads. However, I don’t want to lose any of my favorite channels. Using an ad-blocker is counter to that goal.
YouTube has a feature for supporting individual channels. You can become a “channel member” for 5 USD/month. The feature isn’t available for all channels, however.
This model doesn’t scale. I’d be paying 200 USD/month to support all the channels I’m currently subscribed to with memberships. I also watch videos from channels I don’t follow and one-hit wonders. These other creators deserve to be paid too.
This is the same problem I have with services like Patreon. I don’t want to pay a million mini-subscriptions every month. This is what I find appealing about one-monthly-subscription-to-many-creators services based on engagement like Flattr and Coil.
YouTube could solidify its market-position by asking viewers to chip in a small monthly sum to support creators. It would be a more reliable revenue model for YouTube and for its creators. This is clearly what it’s going for with YouTube Premium already.
It doesn’t take much money to pay creators more than the income they get from advertisers. Frankly, paying creators small amounts for their videos is a better model for the web than relying on ad-revenue anyway.
However, YouTube can’t ask for the same monthly price as Netflix and twice that of Disney+ for videos that are available free of charge. I believe that 5 USD/month to remove ads and support creators would be a more acceptable price. I’d sign up for that whereas I’m not at all interested in the current Premium bundle.