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Google made a mistake with YouTube Premium

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Google opted for Premium Lite and offered an ad-free streaming experience for YouTube Music. It’s still disappointing.

I’m sure the Google administrators consider the YouTube Premium and YouTube Music package generous and affordable. For some people, this is not the case.

It’s been almost a year since YouTube raised the price of Premium from $11.99 to $13.99. Since then, YouTube has ended its short-lived Premium Lite trial and made sure you have to pay for music in addition to Premium.

Google ended its old YouTube Red plans in early 2024, so people paying $8 or $10 suddenly had their bills skyrocket. In the end, it spent a year looking for every possible way to combat ad blockers.

I’m a little late to this discussion. Since the price increase, I’ve gotten about a year’s worth of free YouTube Premium through free three-month trials on various Android phones, tablets, and watches. Now that they’ve run out, I’m used to seeing an ad every 10 minutes or so, or when I pause for too long and the page auto-refreshes, or when I scroll back to check something and hit an ad checkpoint.

YouTube doesn’t care how unpleasant the experience is for regular viewers. It wants to irritate us into giving Google money and increasing its bottom line. The issue is how much they charge.

Let us do a little comparative exercise. Most streaming services now provide a lower-tier ad option, followed by an ad-free upgrade. They all cost more than YouTube, which is a free service. But how much does each platform charge for removing ads, specifically?

  • Prime Video ($3)
  • HBO Max ($6)
  • Paramount+ ($6)
  • Peacock ($6)
  • Netflix ($8.50)
  • Hulu ($10)
  • Disney+ ($10)
  • YouTube ($14)

Streaming companies are all under the same shareholder mandate to maximize profits, and they have all begun to alienate long-term customers by geolocking accounts. In other words, they are equally greedy for our money. Even they wouldn’t charge an additional $14 for no ads.

To clarify, I am aware that these other services require payment, whereas YouTube is free. Obviously, Prime Video is only a “deal” if you subscribe to Prime, and these services end up costing more than Premium overall. I’m specifically referring to the one thing related to this article: removing advertisements. And Google charges more for it than anyone else, including a slew of extras to bring the total price in line with other services.

“Now hold on,” I can picture YouTube CEO Neal Mohan saying, “Those don’t include a music streaming service.” And that is true! Most music streaming services, including YouTube Music, cost around $11/month. So paying only $3 more for no YouTube ads is entirely reasonable.

This, however, assumes that you care about YouTube Music. And I do not. I had to use it while reviewing the Fitbit Charge 6, which, annoyingly, disables playback controls for all music apps other than YouTube Music. Otherwise, I have not received my money’s worth.

YouTube Music isn’t necessarily bad. My coworkers swear by it, and its music recommendations aren’t bad, if not as accurate as those from Spotify or Apple Music. I simply don’t need it because I have all of my MP3 files and playlists elsewhere! I could switch, but I dislike having that decision made for me.

Edit: I removed my mention of local file streaming. It’s not that YouTube Music can’t stream local files; rather, my coworker discovered that it struggled to load the files, rendering it unusable for him. Perhaps this is no longer an issue? Regardless, my main point—that not everyone needs another music streaming service, no matter how good it is—was lost.

Compare YouTube Premium to Apple One. Premium costs $6 less per month, and some people may not care that Apple includes Arcade and a meager 50GB of iCloud storage. However, you are not required to pay for Apple One; instead, you can subscribe to Music or TV+ separately.

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