Nov. 30 Update: This story has been updated per reports of YouTube Originals moving to ad-supported viewing.
YouTube Premium (formerly called YouTube Red), the $11.99 per month subscription that gives you the best version of the streaming service. And while I'm sure somebody's asking "Hey! YouTube is already free, why should I pay?" I've got five solid reasons that will have you ready to sign up today. Image: Yeamake / Shutterstock.com
Before you even think about the fee, realize this: Google offers a 1-month free trial for new users to kick the tires. So, let's dive into why you should sign up for YouTube Premium today, and happily pay for it, without complaint.
1. YouTube is so much better without the ads
If you're like me and the other billion-plus YouTube video watchers, you've come to rely on the service as a super-channel that provides an amazingly wide variety of content on your schedule. In my experience, it goes above and beyond that, offering incredibly well-targeted recommendations, a skill every other service tried, and failed, to impress me with.
But none of this works as well without YouTube Premium.
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YouTube Premium, for those who missed the surprisingly small amount of promotion Google gave it, is a 11.99 per month subscription that includes exclusive content from major YouTubers and a free account with Google Play Music (its very-good Spotify competitor). Most importantly, though, YouTube Premium allows you to watch all the YouTube you want, without ever seeing a single damn ad. This means no ads across all YouTube apps, including the ones for your SmartTV, set-top box and smartphone.
I don't hate ads in a broad sense, but if there's an acceptable way to pay them away? I'll do that just to never have to see a boring and uninspired Geico ad again.
And without ads, YouTube sings with the strength of the greatest choir ever. You click on videos and they start. No pauses, no interruptions, no nothing. Just the videos you want. It should be that simple right?
Oh and with YouTube Premium, ad-free actually means ad-free. What do I mean? Try getting the $11.99 No Commercials package from Hulu and watching shows such as How to Get Away With Murder and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and you'll see ads every time. With YouTube Premium, you won't deal with any annoying asterisks due to contractual agreements or whatever Hulu's excuse is.
No matter where I watch YouTube, from my work computer to my Apple TV to my smartphone, I never see ads. And I'd know if YouTube Red had any similar loopholes or exemptions, as I watch hours upon hours of content on it every week. It's the perfect network for me, always providing enough content, and never ruining it with ads.
2. You can save videos for offline
Anyone who doesn't have an unlimited data plan or uses a commute that sends them on paths without cell reception knows that Save For Offline is one of the best phrases in technology. With YouTube Premium, you get a download icon below every video that you can tap to save the clip for later.
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This way, you can keep a handful of your favorite music videos on hand for your next dance break, or do what I do, and save the video versions of your favorite podcasts at home so you're not limited to the audio only versions on the go.
3. You get YouTube Music Premium and Google Play Music for free too
I didn't get YouTube Premium by subscribing to it, but instead through my existing subscription to Google Play Music, the least-buzzed-about Spotify competitor, which is just as good as the industry leader or Apple Music. That's right, all Google Play Music subscribers get YouTube Premium, and all YouTube Premium subscribers get Google Play Music -- and YouTube Music Premium when it launches on May 22. Win-Win.
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The Google Play Music library offers just as many songs as Spotify, plus it includes a cloud locker service, so MP3 collectors can access their rarities anywhere, with up to 50,000 uploads. The service isn't limited to just songs, though, as Google Play Music's recently added podcasts, so you can pack all of your listening needs into a single app.
In fact, Google plans to bridge the gap between YouTube Premium and Google Play Music in the near future. During a panel session for the New Music Seminar conference in New York, YouTube's head of music Lyor Cohen told audiences that the company is looking into “combining YouTube Premium and Google Play Music, and having one offering," answering a question about the company's plans to boost YouTube Premium's popularity.
4. You can flip between apps without worry
When I'm using only my smartphone or my tablet, the odds always favor a notification popping up on my device that pulls me into my email, my Twitter mentions or my texts. Without YouTube Premium, videos stop playing whenever I switched into a different app.
Now that I use YouTube Premium, if I'm OK with just hearing the sound of a video, it will keep playing in the background as I compose a reply. This also comes in handy with mobile games with background music I'm not fond of, as I can mute the game and have sound from YouTube blasting instead.
5. It's the exclusive home for popular YouTubers original content
If names like Lilly Singh and Rooster Teeth make you want to click Subscribe or Play as fast as you can, then I'm surprised you're not already a YouTube Premium member. These and more artists produce original content that is exclusive to the paid tier of YouTube, which means you're not getting all of the laughs, surprises and action from these creators as possible. Image: Randy Miramontez / Shutterstock.com
This part of YouTube Premium may be changing, though. A Hollywood Reporter story credits a source familiar with YouTube's plans with news that the company "is expected to scale back its scripted output beginning in 2020," in conjunction with a push for ad-supported content.
What are you waiting for?
That YouTube Premium subscription isn't going to start itself. If you're worried about spending money accidentally, set a reminder in your calendar app for one month from today. Have it say "is ad-free YouTube worth it?" Or "how great is it that I can keep YouTube videos for offline viewing?" By the time your month-long trial is up, you'll know the answers, and if you're as voracious a YouTube user as I am, you won't have any problem letting the subscription continue.
If you're checking out the Google Home (which costs $50 less than an Amazon Echo) think about using that extra money for a Chromecast (starting at $35), which will connect the Home to YouTube on your TV. Combining those two products allows you to taste the streaming nirvana that I couldn't live without.