The online streaming video service’s plans to convert some of its user base to a subscription-based, ad-free service known as YouTube Red seems to be successful.
The company’s iOS application is now ranked as one of the App Store’s Top 10 Grossing apps on iPhone, following the launch of YouTube Red in late October. This indicates that a number of users who initially signed up for the free, one-month trial have since converted to paying users, as that trial ended. However, the question now is how many of those users did so unintentionally – that is, did they forget to cancel their subscription before the monthly fee kicked in? Or did they are really willing to pay?
YouTube Red is YouTube’s latest ambitious effort to generate a new revenue stream for both the site itself and its creators. Instead of watching videos peppered with ads, YouTube Red users get ad-free videos, as well as other premium features, like the ability to save videos to watch offline and to play videos in the background. That latter item makes YouTube more competitive with rival streaming music services as users can listen to music via YouTube while using other apps.
The benefits of YouTube Red also extend anywhere you’ve signed in to YouTube, including in the company’s standalone applications, YouTube Gaming and the newly launched YouTube Music. In addition, YouTube Red subscribers gain access to Google Play Music, which is Google’s other streaming music service and digital music locker.
YouTube splits its Red subscription revenue with creators, paying out 55 percent to those making videos for its service – the same percentage as the ad revenue it shares. However, the company practically forced creators to agree to participate in YouTube Red by requiring them to agree to the updated terms or have their videos pulled from YouTube. That has impacted some larger channels, like ESPN, which had streaming agreements in place with others which prevented its participation on YouTube Red. In response, it pulled the majority of its videos off of YouTube.
As early adopters’ free YouTube Red trials wrapped up toward the end of November, the YouTube app has been climbing the charts on the iOS App Store.
It first appeared on the Top Grossing charts for both iPhone and iPad on Saturday, November 28th, where it ranked No. 214 and No. 389, respectively. By Sunday, it had jumped to No. 34 and No. 123, and today it moved to No. 8 and No. 36, for iPhone and iPad. (After I wrote this article, the app jumped again, and is now No. 6 on iPhone and No. 25 on iPad.)
During this time frame, U.S. download estimates are at 3.4 million, notes app marketing firm Sensor Tower, but there’s no way to see how many of those users opted into the free YouTube Red trial, or how many current users were shown the option to sign up to try to YouTube Red in the app.
Though the subscription option is a bit buried in the settings on both iOS and Android, YouTube has been showing a splash screen encouraging users to try out YouTube Red for free. Some users report they were even offered the option to extend their free trial, indicating that not all of those who agreed to try YouTube Red have had yet to decide whether or not they want to pay.