YouTube Red & What It Means for Creators

Our man on the ground Michael Varrati attended a press event for the newly announced YouTube Red this morning and got all the facts straight from the horses mouth. Here’s what he has to report.

Early this morning at YouTube Space LA, YouTube’s Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl called special press conference surrounding the release of a new subscription service: YouTube Red.

Cited as a “major evolution” for the platform Red marks YouTube’s first major foray into premium content.

In addition to offering an ad free alternative to the normal non-pay site, Red will allow viewers to download their favorite videos to watch on occasions they may not be connected to the web. Furthermore, YouTube Red is not just for video…it allows audiences a whole new way to consume music. With the introduction of background play, users who want to slide seamlessly between watching a music video and listening to the song from said video while doing something else may now do so without interruption. The service also offers access to Google Music Play (as well as YouTube Gaming) at no additional cost.

Lily Singh announcing her new original show ‘Unicorn Island’

Beyond these features, YouTube Red plans to unveil original, premium only content lead by some of YouTube’s top talent. To drive this point home, several digital stars stopped by the press event to discuss their forthcoming projects. Lilly Singh, Joey Graceffa, The Fine Bros, and Matt & Burnie from Rooster Teeth, among others, each unveiled bold new projects that they hoped would help define both the Red experience, but also new phases in their respective careers.

Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s Global Head of Original Programming, calls the premium content “an amazing opportunity to take stars who have risen up democratically on YouTube and give them bold new steps.”

The service launches in little over a week on October 28th, with the full range of content coming over the next year.

5 questions and 4 answers from YouTube Red

1. Can YouTube Red compete with other premium content providers like Netflix or Amazon?

The digital platform is constantly looking at ways to reinvent the user experience, and this morning YouTube took a bold new step to create an ecosystem where creators and viewers alike have more control over their content. We just don’t know yet how if audiences will take their cue and paint the town red.

2. What does it mean for average creators?

The main impact will be the terms of service change that has been in place for some time now. This requires all creators to allow their videos to exist inside YouTube Red (as part of the paywalled service) or they will lose the ability to use the monetization features of YouTube and possibly not be surfaced in search/recommended videos.

3. How does the subscription revenues get split between YouTube Red and creators?

The standard YouTube revenue split is 55% creator, 45% YouTube. The revenue split for monetized content inside YouTube Red is still undisclosed, but will be split up according to “watch time.” Kyncl has publically stated that YouTube will pay out “the vast, vast majority of revenue” to the creators.

4. Why YouTube Red, why now?

More and more YouTube stars have started to move into other avenues. Flula starred in Pitch Perfect, Dude Perfect signed a deal with Country Music Television, Grace Helbig launched a show on E! Online. This effort feels like a maneuver to stop the trend of successful YouTube creators drifting away from YouTube once they become very influential and large.

5. What does it mean for you?

YouTube will launch with a free 1-month trial on October 28th and you can learn more here. No news yet on how creators are picked to have their videos on the platform. As soon as we know, so will you.

Michael Varrati is a screenwriter, actor, and pop culture enthusiast. Follow him on Twitter @MichaelVarrati for witticisms and online video happenings.

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