YouTube Red has been getting some buzz lately as a possible Netflix competitor. It’s YouTube’s brand new subscription services that promises zero ads, original content and access to premium music on YouTube Music. (Music, by the way, is something Netflix doesn’t offer.) But up until now, Netflix and YouTube have been playing two entirely different ball games. YouTube is for homemade video that anyone can upload and Netflix is for actual shows, originals and from other networks.
So now that YouTube Red has come about, what are the primary similarities and differences between it and Netflix? Should you subscribe to both of them, perhaps just one of them, or dare I say neither? Let’s break down some of the features and offerings in each to come to a conclusion.
You’re probably familiar with what Netflix offers already because it’s quite simple. Netflix has a large library of movies and television shows that you can stream on any device compatible with the service (which nowadays is many.) Recently, a portion of those shows are Netflix originals and, therefore, exclusives. Moreover, they’ve been critically acclaimed. Such original titles are Orange is the New Black, House of Cards, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Chelsea Does and more.
Aside from being the leading streaming service in terms of content availability, it’s also become a leader in compatibility. Just about every smart TV out there plus set-top box like Apple TV or Chromecast support Netflix. You can also watch Netflix on your phone, tablet and laptop.
YouTube Red, on the other hand, is definitely a bit more complicated. YouTube Red includes a free subscription to Google Play Music, which is essentially just like Spotify, plus it removes ads on YouTube; furthermore it lets you save videos for offline playback and lets you watch videos while running other apps on iOS and Android. How any of these features are related to each other is yet to be determined, but regardless, they’re all nice enhancements to the YouTube experience for sure. In fact, Netflix doesn’t even support offline playback, so that’s a nice advantage for team Red.
YouTube Red also includes access to YouTube original content, but that really deserves its own explanation.
YouTube Red is pretty new, so it doesn’t have much original content right now. But so far, it seems like YouTube is relying on its already popular content creators to make original content that’s also exclusive to YouTube Red. For instance, Lilly Singh, a well-known YouTuber, just released a behind the scenes look at her upcoming YouTube Red movie “A Trip to Unicorn Island.”
Other than that, there really isn’t much with wide appeal. Business Insiderwent through some of YouTube Red’s other original content and was anything but pleased. Most of it seems suited for kids and teenagers and as such feels low-quality and low-budget. The bottom line: don’t subscribe to YouTube Red just for the original content.
On the flip side, Netflix’s original content has been an incentive for many people to sign up. Aforementioned shows like Orange is the New Black and House of Cards have received rave reviews and even sparked cult-like followings on social media. Netflix continues to add more and more original shows and TV shows that usually impress.
YouTube Red is $9.99 per month for the full bundle of features and original content. Netflix subscriptions start at $7.99 per month, but you’ll want to opt for the HD package at $8.99 per month.
While YouTube Red is sparse on original content, consider the value of Google Play Music, which is included. That alone would usually cost $9.99 per month. Throw in ad-free YouTube and features like mobile multitasking and offline playback and YouTube Red becomes an awesome value.
Tip: It’s worth considering whether you even need to subscribe to a streaming music service in the first place. YouTube’s free music videos and Spotify’s free plan might just suffice.
Still, even at $9 per month, Netflix has thousands of movies and TV shows. And considering its popularity, that alone seems to be a tremendous value for its millions of paying users.
Verdict: Go with Netflix
Right now, YouTube Red isn’t nearly compelling enough to justify the $10 per month price. If you’re an avid YouTube user that wants an ad-free and offline experience, maybe it’s something to consider. But for the most part, it doesn’t even feel like a true competitor to Netflix just yet. In time with better original shows it might build itself up, but Netflix definitely isn’t going anywhere.
Netflix has a lot of amazing movies and TV shows at a pretty affordable price. Being able to watch any one of them at any time on nearly any device is the secret sauce that has turned Netflix into a household name.