Maddie Gudenkauf
Maddie Gudenkauf: Writer & YouTuber
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Thoughts of Maddness

Thoughts of Maddness

Maddie Gudenkauf's Official Blog

Is YouTube Premium's $15 a Month Worth It?

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I’ve been a paying YouTube Premium/Red member since November 2011 when it was first released and I wrote about the new service for my school newspaper and my own blog that I had at the time. For $10 a month, I enjoyed a wide variety of features that benefited me greatly as I use the platform as much as someone else might use Netflix and a little more. However, now the service has bumped itself up to over $15 a month while only offering more new exclusive shows.

Speaking as someone who has used this service since its release, $15 is far overpriced for this service. If I wasn’t grandfathered in with my $10 a month membership, I would’ve cancelled it as soon as the price went up. But I want you to make your own decision so here’s the list of features offered by YouTube Premium and how much I’ve used them in the past three years:

  • Ad-Free: This is a nice bonus. I’ve barely seen an ad in three years because of this. Commercials fascinate me now. Can I live without it though? Probably. From what I’ve seen, most YouTube ads aren’t very intrusive. This alone would not be worth $15 a month.

  • Offline playback: I used this feature a lot when I stayed with my parents and their terrible wifi situation that didn’t allow accessible video streaming. I also found a use for it when I wanted to catch up on a gameplay series I enjoyed and used the offline feature to do so as I travelled for a vacation. However, now that my parents got normal wifi that lets me watch videos whenever I want and I got a Kindle to keep myself entertained while traveling, this feature has fallen to the wayside for me. I can’t stress how useful it was for me in the beginning though when I couldn’t stream videos whenever I wanted. It really was a lifesaver and I will gladly use it again if I find myself in a similar situation.  

  • Google Play Music: This is, by far, the one thing that’s stopping me from cancelling my subscription. When you purchase YouTube Premium, you also receive all of the paid benefits of Google Music which includes offline and ad-free listening. I use Google Play Music daily. It holds my entire former iTunes library, all of my new playlists, and all of my new favorite albums. For me and my Android loving self, Google Play Music is the best listening service to use. But I also did my research and this is the cheapest music streaming service you can get for $10 a month. However, for $15 a month (which is what you have to pay now if you haven’t previously signed up for YouTube Premium) you can just get Spotify Premium which offers the exact same benefits but is integrated with more external apps. So if you’re just looking for a good music service and don’t care for the added benefits of YouTube Premium, just get Spotify.

There’s also a rumor that YouTube is considering getting rid of Google Play Music in
favor of their YouTube Music service. If this occurs, I will gladly cancel my YouTube
Premium subscription. I’ve committed the past three years to building my Google Play
Music library and I have no intention of re-building it again on a service that focuses on
music videos with all of the sound effects and added bits instead of just pure music. I will
even return to my old CD collection rather than try to deal with YouTube Music’s mess of
a site.

  • Background videos: This is probably the most annoying feature of YouTube Premium. While I do use it every night to play my hour long sleep music without wasting my phone’s battery, more often than not this feature is annoying to use. I’ll accidentally click on a video, panic and try to close it by locking my phone, and then the video will just play through the phone’s speakers anyway. I can see how it can be useful if you want to listen to music through YouTube and don’t want to kill your phone’s battery, but YouTube Premium already offers both YouTube Music and Google Play offline listening. If the offline music is so important to you, you can just use one of those sites. There’s sleep music on Google Play. This feature doesn’t need to exist.

  • Exclusive content: Ah yes. The reason why YouTube bumped their premium service to $15. They keep boasting about how awesome their new shows are and are even lining up A-list stars like The Rock, Will Smith, etc for these exclusive shows specifically designed to directly compete with Netflix. The truth?

If you never want to see another advertisement for a YouTube Premium show ever
again, sign up for YouTube Premium.

This means you’ll probably never watch a YouTube Premium show ever unless you
actively look for it. The only YouTube Red exclusive shows I’ve ever watched in my three
years of being a YouTube Red subscriber are The Thinning, Lazer Team, Scare
Pewdiepie, and Good Game. I watched Lazer Team and Scare Pewdiepie because my
friends were fans of the creators who made the shows and wanted to watch them on my
account. I watched Good Game because my favorite creators were the stars of the show
so I heard a lot about it on social media. I watched The Thinning a full year after it came
out because I happened to watch the ad on my non YouTube Red friend’s account.  

I don’t even know any of the new shows coming out now that YouTube Premium is a
thing. Apparently there’s a Lazer Team 2 and I still have no idea if it’s actually on
YouTube Premium or not. Liza Koshy has a show, maybe, which is probably why she
was on Jimmy Fallon. I don’t know what it’s about, but it exists. The point is, for how
much money YouTube is charging you just for these exclusive shows….they’re not worth
it and you can’t even watch what you want to watch unless you actively search for it. If
you want an exclusive video streaming service, just go with Netflix’s cheapest streaming
option at only $11 and get all of the shows everyone else is actually watching. Better yet,
you can steal your friends’ Netflix passwords and watch the shows that way. With
YouTube Premium, if you’re a creator it’s impossible to share account passwords unless
you want to compromise your personal channel and the videos on it by giving all of your
friends personal access to it.   


So that is every feature YouTube Premium offers and how I’ve personally used each feature over the course of three years. If you want more information or details about my experience with YouTube Red/Premium, feel free to contact me on my Twitter @Maddness22. I also have a YouTube channel at TheMaddness22 that you can watch whether or not if you have YouTube Premium. Let me know your thoughts!

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