Finally! A plucky upstart has entered the streaming market, hell bent on stripping those big business fat cats Netflix and Amazon of their online video crowns. Who is this saviour you ask? Why it’s… Google-backed YouTube of course! Although it’s not exactly the David vs. Goliath / MySpace vs. Facebook clash of the titans we were hoping for, Google at least have the resources, big data and cat-video-streaming-experience to make a good attempt at usurping the market leaders.
Today marks the launch of YouTube Premium in the US, Canada and the UK – the video giant’s pay-to-view video streaming service providing professionally-produced long-form and short-form content on the native YouTube platform. It even includes a Spotify-a-like music streaming app called YouTube Music, as part of a unique combined audio-visual experience.
Unfortunately, for the UK, I just can’t see it working. Here are four reasons why:
1) It’s overpriced
The standard package costs £11.99 (£15.99 through the app!), almost twice the price of the basic package on Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Of course the YouTube package does also contain a music streaming service, but as the video service can’t be purchased separately, if you already have Spotify, Deezer or Apple Music, you’re stuck.
2) It’s features already exist for free
As much as I’m no fan of ad-blocker (blog pending!), the ability to remove ads on YouTube videos isn’t exactly a superpower, and is hardly worth the price of four Pret croissants a month. The other killer feature YouTube tout is the ability to download videos to watch later offline. There are already half a dozen apps out there that can do this, many of which are extensions to Google’s own Chrome browser, and all of which are free of charge…
3) The UK already has a lot of good national streaming services
Britain is lucky. We’ve got the BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and All4 as standard, providing high-quality programming available on demand on as many devices as you like. With the licence fee frozen for another year, these services are even better value and, frankly, much better than all other national broadcasters’ output across the world (cue the Elgar). Netflix and Amazon only compete in the UK because of the equally high quality of their platforms’ original productions. Google may be bringing similar levels of mega-dollar to the market, but are premium formats for YouTube stars really enough? Their opening offering (which includes a sequel to the 2008 flop Jumper and a TV-vehicle for a smattering of semi-famous YouTubers) isn’t exactly setting the world on fire.
Google have the most comprehensive and effective advertising network in the world, providing real and tangible benefits for advertisers at an unbelievable value. YouTube in particular has been incredibly innovative – it’s impressive Creator programme splits ad-revenue with its producers to encourage even greater ad-supported content on the platform, which in turn provides even greater value for advertisers.
Subscription models like Netflix have to provide something more than the value of skipping the odd pre-roll or dodging the odd product placement. Ironically, it could be that Google have become so expert at making their ads relevant and un-intrusive that no-one is willing to pay to remove them, not least for the “premium” content currently on offer.