YouTube's new subscription service, Red, is now live and offering a month-long free trial to U.S. subscribers. The launch adds a new competitive element to the SVOD (subscription video on demand) segment of the online video industry, lining up YouTube more directly against smaller companies that also specialize in user-generated content such as Vimeo.
In addition to providing an ad-free experience, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG)-run YouTube Red allows subscribers to download videos to their mobile device. Users can't download videos to their desktop computers, however, or watch videos downloaded via mobile device on their desktops.
YouTube Red's mobile device download feature allows subscribers to save videos with a choice of resolutions (top) for offline viewing from a Saved Videos section (bottom), as this screencap shows.
A test by FierceOnlineVideo showed the service was operating smoothly, with downloads to an Apple iPad taking place without a hitch. Subscriptions are authenticated across devices and on desktops, although downloaded videos can only be watched on the mobile device they were downloaded on, naturally.
The $9.99 per month membership also extends to YouTube Gaming and will extend to the upcoming YouTube Music service.
While there were initial worries from creators about whether their content would have to be placed behind the Red paywall, and whether their ad-based revenues would suffer. An article in The Verge did some myth-busting to explain that creators are not being forced to do so, and that 98 percent of creators on the service are "now covered by agreements that make them part of both free and subscription YouTube."
YouTube also confirmed that during the launch period, when all new subscribers will be participating in the 30-day free trial, creators will still receive a cut of subscription revenues, according to BBC News.
It isn't all unicorns and rainbow ice cream for everyone, though. ESPN channels have gone dark across YouTube due to a licensing glitch with ESPN's parent company, Disney.
ESPN's YouTube channels go dark amid YouTube Red launch
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Google's subscription streaming service YouTube Red to cost $10/month, promises original content