What Is YouTube Premium, and Is It Worth It?

YouTube Premium is the site’s paid subscription service. It offers ad-free viewing of all videos, offline playback, and exclusive, paywalled content primarily made by famous YouTube personalities. For U.S. subscribers, it currently costs $11.99 a month, and this includes a YouTube Music Premium subscription.

The YouTube Ecosystem

Google’s naming schemes have always been a bit of a mess, and the same is true of YouTube. You might be familiar with a service called YouTube Red. Before 2018, that was the site’s subscription tier. However, this changed to YouTube Premium following the rebranding of YouTube Music as an entirely separate app.

Since there are so many brands and services now under the YouTube banner, here’s a handy guide to help you tell them apart:

  • YouTube Premium: The site’s primary paid subscription service.
  • YouTube Music: A separate music streaming service with its own app that allows you to listen to music for free. It’s Google’s competitor to Spotify and Apple Music.
  • YouTube Music Premium: The subscription ($9.99) version of YouTube Music. Unlike the free version, it allows background play, offline downloads, and higher bitrate audio in the Music app. You can also get this as part of your YouTube Premium subscription. It currently includes access to Google Play Music, but it will soon fully replace that.
  • YouTube TV: A live TV service similar to Hulu that allows you to watch live TV and record cloud-based DVR.
  • YouTube Kids: An app designed primarily for kids, that contains only age-appropriate content. The features of YouTube Premium also apply to this.

RELATED: I Tried YouTube Music Again and It Still Sucks

The Benefits of Premium

If you’re thinking of subscribing to YouTube Premium, it does have a host of features to consider. Here’s a list of the service’s current benefits:

  • Ad-free viewing: You can view everything on the site without any ads. You also get ad-free viewing on any platform you sign in to with your Google account, including the web, smartphones, Roku, or any other streaming devices.
  • YouTube originalsYou get access to original content, primarily from high-profile creators, along with some tv shows, documentaries, and movies.
  • Background play: If you’re on mobile, the audio from the video you’re viewing will continue to play even if you’re outside the app or your phone display is closed. On Android, you can also view videos picture-in-picture while you use other apps on your phone.
  • Download videos: You can download videos or playlists to watch offline on your smartphone or tablet.
  • YouTube Music Premium: You get access to this service and all the features that come with it, as well.

Google might add additional features to Premium in the future, so stay tuned!

Is Premium Worth It?

It depends on how often you use the service. If you frequently use the mobile app, background play and offline downloading are fantastic features to have. With so many YouTube channels now hosting long-form content, the option to listen to lengthy videos when you’re not in the app is handy. It’s great for listening while you drive or cook dinner.

If you most often watch YouTube from your desktop, the utility is definitely in the ad-blocking. Video ad revenues have been falling lately, which has led creators to put even more ads in their content. If you want to watch videos uninterrupted while still supporting those who make them, Premium is the only way to do so.

One thing to consider, though, is the Originals library is relatively small. If you’re not interested in watching Premium content from creators, you’ll probably find the selection pretty lackluster.

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