We’ve been hearing rumors about YouTube’s ad-free subscription service for years, but it wasn’t until last November that the company actually released something along those lines. It was called YouTube Music Key, and it was a good start, allowing users to watch ad-free music videos and even download them for offline playback, but now the company is ready to take the next step. Earlier today, YouTube announced YouTube Red, a $9.99/month service that does pretty much the same thing that Music Key does, except for every video on YouTube, not just music videos. The company also announced that Music Key is being absorbed by Red, and that Red subscribers will also have access to exclusive YouTube Originals.
YouTube generates billions of dollars a year running ads in its vast repository of music, video game and how-to videos. Now the video site and its parent company, Google, are hoping users will pay for the privilege to watch the same videos without ads. YouTube executives on Wednesday introduced YouTube Red, a long-anticipated subscription service that will cost $10 a month for the same videos ad-free. The company simultaneously announced YouTube Originals, a slate of original programming that will be available only on the paid service. “People are embracing paid subscriptions for ad-free content at an incredible pace,” said Robert Kyncl, the chief business officer at YouTube, who introduced the product on a stage at the YouTube Space in Los Angeles, a center where people who post on YouTube can make and edit videos on professional equipment free. Mr. Kyncl also gave some updates on the company’s ad business, noting that the number of advertisers running campaigns on YouTube was up 40 percent over the last year and that the top 100 advertisers had increased spending by 60 percent. Google continues to make the most of its revenue from advertising on its search engine, but it is now hoping to use its fast-expanding catalog of YouTube videos and music services to start bringing in subscription revenue as well. The service, which begins next week, will work across the original YouTube as well as YouTube’s gaming app, its forthcoming music app and Google’s Google Play music service.