Is YouTube Red good or bad for the democratization of content?
Will it help small creators?
Will it radically shift the branded content space?
How do we now think about success on YouTube?
How does it change the way advertisers interact in the space?
I think YouTube Red is likely both good and bad for the democratization of content.
The question in my mind is if YouTube Red will increase or decrease the value of ad space on the free version of YouTube. I think It would be ideal if the monetary value of a Red user could be matched by the monetary value of an ad-watcher, which would require advertisers to pay more for ad space on YouTube. But then that begs the question of if the ad-watcher is worth more money than the red subscriber, since there are different metrics to define the value of the user and their mindset in the space. If Red money goes to creators based on watch-time of their videos, it is a meritocracy based on user interest. Serving ads cannot be as meritocratic because success isn’t always defined on watch-time.
Does this change access to the platform overseas? I think if YouTube Red is international, it will also be a big move to the importance of YouTube in the international space and might shift conversations away from being as U.S. centric as they are. We currently talk about top talent as largely English speaking, but there are vibrant cultures of online video in other countries, and maybe success on Red and more information about watch time, will shift the conversation to a global one.
Red also brings up brand integration deals. Would sponsored/integrated videos count as ads on Red, or are there just no ad units being sold? In that case, would Red users who watch branded content be even more valuable to a brand? Would that create another layer of measurement and stratification amongst creators based on the watch times of branded content as compared to non-branded content, when compared to other creators on the platform? Would creators even still want to make brand integration deals if their income can get adequately supplemented from Red?
Can Red even promise that level of income?
Would some of the projects a brand would fund (like epic DevinSuperTramp videos) now be a thing that YouTube might want to fund so as to get exclusive content for Red? There are so many variables in the success of Red and its implications on the future of YouTube that are un-knowable.
Right now it is a price point that doesn’t entice me enough to do it. Adding another $10/ month to the already large pile of media subscriptions for something that is currently perfectly serviceable in its free incarnation isn’t something I am interested in, but then again, I drive (so there aren’t many instances I would need to watch YouTube offline) and I don’t rely on it for music, so I might not be its target user.
While YouTube Red begs more questions than it answers at the moment (and I have a million more questions), I am rooting for its success, despite not being convinced to contribute to it yet. All we can do is wait and see about how it changes the ecosystem.