On Wednesday, YouTube announced YouTube Red, a subscription-based model of interacting with the site ad-free. In response, many within the YouTube community essentially tapped into their inner Chris Crocker to unleash a collective battle cry of "LEAVE YOUTUBE ALONE."
A YouTube Red subscription will free subscribers from pre-roll advertisements for $9.99 per month, The Verge reports. Rollout begins Oct. 28 in the U.S. People who subscribe to YouTube Red—not to be confused with porn-streaming site RedTube—will also receive access to Google Play Music, Red-exclusive original content from the site's Creator partners, and other perks.
Users who don't want to pay nearly $10 a month for ad-free access to the site will still be able to watch YouTube videos for free; they will just have to continue sitting through ads. The two-tiered system has been compared to Spotify, which offers users the choice between an ad-supported experience (Spotify Free) and an ad-free one (Spotify Premium).
"Ninety-nine point nine percent of the content on YouTube will be free, as it always has been," Robert Kyncl, YouTube's chief business officer, told The Verge.
But that 0.1% of YouTube Red-exclusive content has become a major point of contention for many in the YouTube community. That content will be made by Creators—or, YouTubers who have partnered with the site for added exposure and promotion. So, if you're a huge fan of Lilly Singh or PewDiePie but don't want to pay 10 bucks a month for a Red subscription, you should probably start looking for new faves.
To complicate matters, it appears as if YouTube might have pressured Creators to join them behind the YouTube Red paywall. TechCrunch reports that the Creators risked having their content "disappear" from the site if they did not agree to YouTube's terms.
And what are YouTube's terms, as far as Red revenue sharing is concerned? Robert Kyncl did not specify in his interview with The Verge, but he did say that Creators will earn a majority of subscription revenue. Creators currently receive 55% of advertising revenue on their videos, which, TechCrunch notes, is way lower than similar streaming competitors like Spotify (70%) and Apple Music (71.5%).
Many popular YouTubers who do not belong to the big-C Creators program, like Kat Blaque and Acacia Brinley, appear worried about their channels' futures. It does not appear that YouTube gave them any kind of heads-up about the rollout of YouTube Red.
A change.org petition titled "stop youtube red" has surfaced, and it already has more than 2,400 signatures. Grievances include "forcing" Creators to sign with YouTube Red and creating a two-tiered model where the top-quality content is roped off for those who can afford it.
"Yeah, [YouTube Red] seems elitist," Akilah Hughes, a YouTuber with more than 100k subscribers who just so happens to work at Fusion, told me over Slack. "Why should anyone have to pay to watch goofy English teens do blindfolded challenges?"
I've reached out to YouTube about TechCrunch's report. I will update the story if I hear back.
UPDATE, Oct. 23: Michelle Slavich, head of entertainment communications at YouTube, linked me to an official press statement. According to the statement, YouTube Red was created by popular demand to give “fans exactly what they wants”: “more choice when watching their favorite content, more ways to support their favorite creators and, above all, the option to watch their favorite videos uninterrupted.” The statement also says that a one-month free trial of YouTube Red will be available on Oct. 28.
Bad at filling out bios seeks same.