I've been musing recently about if it would be good to cancel one of my numerous subscription services, which include Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, and while I've not managed to pull the trigger yet, it has given me a fresh perspective on the value delivered by YouTube Premium.
YouTube Premium is the streaming service's paid-for subscription tier and delivers a selection of benefits over a non-paid subscription. These include:
1. Ad-free YouTube – This is huge. YouTube's monumental and vast library of videos on every subject you can think of is watchable without any interruptions, be that consumed on TV, desktop PC, tablet or mobile phone.
2. Downloadable videos – You can download videos with a YouTube Premium subscription and save them for consumption later, when you may not have a data connection (such as when travelling). You can also build up libraries of your favourite shows.
3. Background play – An underrated benefit in my opinion. YouTube Premium turns on background play for videos. This means any video being played will continue to do so in the background, even if you open another app. Great for listening to shows or live streams while chatting on social media, browsing the internet or even working.
4. YouTube Music Premium access – Great for music lovers. A YouTube Premium sub unlocks access to YouTube's biggest selection of music ad-free, which can be also accessed offline and with a device's screen lock on. You get a quality music subscription service included in your video package.
5. YouTube Kids is also ad-free – If you've got kids then this is obviously also just great. You get ad-free and offline play in the YouTube Kids app.
Yeah, but YouTube is free
Yeah, I get that and it is a perfectly valid counter argument to a subscription to YouTube Premium. Without a subscription you still get access to all of YouTube's vast selection of videos and a lot of music, too, but both are supported by adverts and you lose all the other benefits.
And look, I get it, that's going to be fine for some people. But just from a value point of view (YouTube Premium is $11.99 a month in the USA, and £11.99 in the UK), I've started to wonder if, actually, it offers the best value out of all streaming services.
I mean, Netflix, for example, costs $19.99 a month for the premium plan. I use YouTube every single day, though, watching videos on my commute to work, while the same can't be said for Netflix. I also listen to music at work and on the commute, so advert free music included in a plan is something that Netflix doesn't offer and would be used every day, too.
If you're an Amazon Prime subscriber then you get access to some of Amazon's vast music library (2 million songs), but to get the full 90 million streaming in HD and UHD you need to pay on top for Amazon Music Unlimited. If you just subscribe to Prime Video on its own, then naturally you don't get any music included, either. A Prime Video sub is cheaper than YouTube Premium, though, ringing in at $8.99 / £7.99 per month.
Disney Plus, on the other hand, costs $7.99 / £7.99 per month. This service also doesn't offer any music streaming solution, despite its Netflix-rivalling movie and TV selection.
They're not 1-for-1 competitors, though
These services are not strictly competing with each other, yes. I get that. But just thinking about the content each delivers and for what price has put into sharper relief what YouTube Premium does deliver for the money.
If you're like me and use YouTube every day, with a host of subscribed channels, brands and content creators you watch hours of content on, then being able to do that advert free and offline is a major benefit. As too listening to those shows while doing other things on a device.
YouTube Premium also delivers massively in terms of music streaming service, too, which is not something the other, strictly video services do.
Yes, YouTube Premium is not the destination to watch the latest Hollywood films or major TV shows, but I'm not comparing content type more than value for content delivered. And, in that sense, I think YouTube Premium makes a very strong case for being top of the pile.