YouTube Red: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

Will YouTube Red pay creators during its free trial?
By Sara Parra
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  • Upon its launch, YouTube Red is already making waves among creators and consumers alike. Rumors abound about what’s happening with the service, what it means to creators, and how it affects the average viewer.

    For all the negative talk regarding Red, there’s a lot of positive response to the service, particularly from creators. The ability to create high budget, well rounded content for Red wouldn’t have been possible without the service’s existence, and overall the push away from ad-driven content is a welcome relief to creators and fans alike.

    Additionally, fans who were concerned that their GooglePlay accounts would be a separate charge will be happy to hear that YouTube Red is included in their subscription fee. For all intents and purposes it appears that YouTube is taking a step in the right direction.

    However, all of this good is mired in intense controversy regarding profitability – and worse yet, the same issues that plagued Apple Music when it launched.

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  • Will YouTube Red pay creators even during the free-trial period?

    The short answer is yes. The rumor started when MCN FullScreen angrily tweeted that YouTube Red would not be paying out YouTubers during the 30-day free trials. Technically, they’re not wrong.

    According to a blog released by YouTube, GooglePlay subscribers will automatically be enrolled. Theoretically, it’s from these already existing subscriptions that creators will be paid. However, it’s been pointed out that Red was rolled out just before the most profitable month for creators, and that there may not be enough Play subscribers to make up for the loss created by a 30-day trial.

    So yes, YouTube will be paying creators – but not technically with Red subscriptions.

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  • Because of this, it might mean that profits for creators in the first month of Red’s existence are being paid little to nothing for their participation in the launch of the service.

  • Creators who do not sign up for the Red service will have their videos made private.

    This was actually initially reported by TechCrunch who stated:

    “Today YouTube confirmed that any “partner” creator who earns a cut of ad revenue but doesn’t agree to sign its revenue share deal for its new YouTube Red $9.99 ad-free subscription will have their videos hidden from public view on both the ad-supported and ad-free tiers. That includes videos by popular comedians, musicians, game commentators, and DIY instructors, though not the average person that uploads clips.”

    This is somewhat true, and has even affected sports giant ESPN who had all of their videos made private or removed due to a pre-existing contract. Basically, creators have to opt in to the new Terms of Service which state that their content can be displayed for Red users who are now paying for said content.

    Some companies and even some creators may have pre-existing contracts where their content can be uploaded to YouTube because the platform offers it free to viewers. Since Red is a paid subscription service, it violates the “free” part of the contract meaning the content would have to be removed. Hank Green did a good job of explaining this in his video regarding Red (skip to 10:36 for relevant details)

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  • However, agreeing to the new terms of service will likely (and sadly) affect the channels of YouTubers who have passed away. There’s been no word on how this is going to be handled by YouTube, or even how it could pay out to their next of kin.

  • YouTube Red is going to create a class system between viewers who can afford it, and those who can’t.

    This point has pretty much been proven false across the board. In practice, Red isn’t going to change how content is being delivered to fans regardless of who or who does not pay for the subscription service. From the consumer point of view, nothing actually changes other that some people will have ads and others won’t.

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  • Red is only beneficial to larger channels with longer videos

    It’s hard to tell whether or not this is actually true. Red only launched today and everything until this point has been conjecture on whether or not the subscription service is in fact equally beneficial for large and small channels alike. It doesn’t help that YouTube neither confirms nor denies rumors about how Red’s payout system actually works.

    Based on what we’ve seen thus far (which hasn’t been much to be honest) Red pays based on the number of Red users and their watched minutes. If you’re someone who lives off short-form video, then in theory this is really going to rip in hole into your profits. Equally, if you’re a smaller YouTube channel, the likelihood of your audience being made of a majority of Red users is very slim.

    There’s no way of knowing for sure if YouTube is ripping off its smaller creators until Red has been in effect long enough for us to see what will really happen.

    In the end, we’ll have to concede to the point made by both John and Hank Green. Both Red and ad-driven payments do not really keep YouTube creators thriving. If you really want to support your favorite creators, there are better ways than just a subscription.