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YouTube is finally asking users to pay up.
The Google-owned streaming service on Wednesday announced the upcoming launch of an ad-free subscription service, called YouTube Red, that will cost $9.99 a month. Red, which launches Oct. 28, will feature offline viewing and the ability to play videos in the background on tablets or mobile phones.
A key component of the new service will be a slate of originals from top online stars that have been funded by YouTube. YouTube announced a number of exclusive originals as part of Red, including a scripted comedy called Sing It from the Fine Brothers, a project with Swedish gamer PewDiePie and a movie from vlogger Lilly Singh.
YouTube is taking originals seriously, hiring MTV veteran Susanne Daniels over the summer to head the initiative. YouTube originals, announced last April ahead of YouTube’s annual Brandcast event in New York during the Digital Content New Fronts, gives money to endemic creators to produce higher-budget projects than those they are often able to make on their own. It’s an evolution of the company’s 2011 plan to give money to Hollywood stars like Madonna for YouTube channels. That program ended after only a couple of years.
Some of the originals that YouTube announced earlier this year, including a project from comedy duo Smosh, will be part of YouTube’s free, ad-supported service.
At YouTube Red’s launch event on Oct. 21, Daniels took the stage to share more details of the originals that YouTube is funding. She noted that while at MTV she was developing programming that “appealed to people in an age with so many distractions,” but that the diversity of programming on YouTube has “captured the attention of a new generation of fans.”
YouTube has been working on a subscription service for more than a year. It’s first subscription effort was the test launch of Music Key, a music streaming offering, which launched last November. The service has been rebranded as YouTube Music and will be wrapped into the new Red subscription offering. It will also have a standalone app, which will launch later this year, that will be similar to those that YouTube has created for gaming and kids content.
It has taken YouTube a while to launch its video subscription service in part because of the deals it has had to strike with creators to ensure that their videos, long offered up for free with advertising, would be part of the catalog of paid content. The company told creators that their free videos would be made private if they did not agree to new terms for the subscription service. Several big media companies, which offer up clips on YouTube from their most popular shows also were reluctant to sign onto the service, but have come around. Chief business officer Robert Kyncl said Wednesday that YouTube had done deals with 99 percent of its partners and was hoping to finish negotiations with a few remaining holdouts prior to Red’s launch.
Here are the originals coming to YouTube Red:
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