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YouTube Premium Review: Is It Worth the $12?

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Intro: YouTube Premium Review

Chances are you’ve heard of YouTube Premium but might wonder if it’s really worth it. This review article will break down everything you need to know about YouTube Premium including the pricing, features, YouTube Music, and if the service is right for you.

For the uninitiated, YouTube Premium is a subscription service that removes advertising from YouTube videos and gives you access to ad-free music listening.

So what are the benefits of a Premium membership? Let’s get into it.

What's included with YouTube Premium?

There are several benefits that you get with YouTube Premium which make watching YouTube or listening to music a less cluttered, more user-friendly experience. They are:

  • Ads removed from YouTube videos: Watch millions of YouTube vids, ad-free. No more ads before or during YouTube videos, including the overlay ads. This applies to YouTube on any device that is signed into the Google account associated with your YouTube Premium subscription.
  • Video downloads: Download videos and watch them offline through the YouTube mobile app. There is also an option for “smart downloads” that will automatically download videos you may be interested in based on your watch history.
  • Background play: Continue listening to the audio from videos or music from YouTube with the screen on your mobile device turned off. This feels like a feature that should be available to everyone with or without a Premium subscription, but, alas, it remains behind a paywall.
  • YouTube Music Premium: Get full access to millions of songs and music videos through YouTube Music, all ad-free. Download songs to listen to them offline. Continue listening to music while using other apps or with your device's screen turned off.
  • YouTube Kids benefits: You can also remove ads, download videos to play offline, and listen to audio with Background Play through the YouTube Kids app that's logged in with a YouTube Premium account.
  • Early access to new features: When they're available, Premium subscribers can get access to new features early. Check this page to see if any features are available now.
  • Access to Premium-exclusive shows and movies: These are known as YouTube Originals. While they are (in large part) no longer produced, some are still available to watch. More on this later.

YouTube Premium vs YouTube TV vs YouTube Music

YouTube Premium is one of three subscription services offered by YouTube. The other two are YouTube Music Premium and YouTube TV.

YouTube Music is a music streaming service with its own app that is separate from the regular YouTube app. While you can listen to music for free with YouTube Music, a Music Premium subscription removes ads, allows for offline downloads, and background listening. 

You can subscribe to YouTube Music Premium on its own. Otherwise, you'll get the same benefits bundled together with a YouTube Premium subscription. 

YouTube TV is a live TV streaming service that provides access to the same live TV channels you’d find through broadcast TV or cable, but over the internet. We’ve written a separate article about YouTube TV which you can read here. At this time there is is not a bundle option for YouTube TV and YouTube Premium.

How much is YouTube Premium?

A YouTube Premium subscription includes ad-free YouTube videos and music for one user. If you’re going to be sharing the account with other members of your household (and want separate profiles for recommendations, watch history, etc.), you’ll need a Family account that includes Premium benefits for up to 5 family members.

They also offer special pricing for students. 

Here’s a full breakdown on the pricing:

PlanPriceFree Trial?
Individual (Monthly)$11.99/moYes (30 Days)
Individual (Annual)$119.99/yr.*No
Family$22.99/mo.Yes (30 Days)
Student$6.99/mo.Yes (30 Days)
*Annual Plan does not automatically renew.

And it should be noted that if you’re are interested in audio music only, you can get YouTube Music Premium  for $9.99/month or $99.99/year (individual), $14.99 a month for a family plan, or $4.99 a month for a student plan.

Important Note for Apple Users!

If you sign up for YouTube Premium through the YouTube app on an Apple device, you will end up paying extra money that you don’t need to spend. YouTube charges $15.99/month for an individual plan or $29.99/month for a family plan if the purchase goes through Apple.

To avoid this, sign up through the website using a desktop or laptop computer or through the browser on your mobile device- just not the YouTube app itself. 

This is to compensate for what is sometimes referred to as the “Apple Tax,” i.e. the up to 30% commission Apple keeps for itself from any in-app purchase. 

YouTube Music- is it any good?

Similar to Spotify or Apple Music, YouTube has their own music streaming service that’s included with YouTube Premium. But how does it compare to the competition? 

Much like their competitors, YouTube Music Premium has a vast library that includes millions of songs available to listen to. You can create playlists plus listen to radio stations or podcasts. 

One area where YouTube Music stands out is with its integration of music videos. Any time you select a song to play, you can switch over to its music video mid-song. When you watch music-related content on YouTube, this is also factored into the music recommendation algorithm for YouTube Music. 

Although the integration of music videos was a nice feature, I found the YouTube Music app to be slightly less slick than Spotify or Apple Music. Discovering new music with features like radio stations, playlists, and auto-play just didn’t seem as intuitive on YouTube Music as it does with other music apps. 

Still, for anyone who watches or listens to music frequently on YouTube, YouTube Music should mesh well with YouTube's companion video content. 

What about YouTube Originals?

YouTube Premium used to be known as YouTube Red. During this time, YouTube billed it as a video subscription service like Netflix or Hulu and produced their own movies and TV shows they billed as YouTube Originals.

These YouTube Originals focused on shows featuring popular YouTubers like PewDiePie, MrBeast, and The Try Guys, but also included some higher-budget scripted content like Cobra Kai

Some of these shows were available for anyone to watch, while others were available only to Premium subscribers. YouTube shut down their Originals division in January 2022.

Despite this, the Premium-exclusive Originals are still available, although they are scattered across YouTube and no longer promoted.

Final Verdict: Is YouTube Premium Worth It?

Watching YouTube with a Premium subscription created a better video-watching experience since the ads were removed. It was easy to flip back and forth between different videos since I knew there would no ad interruption each time I refreshed the page.

In particular, YouTube Premium made it more convenient to listen to the audio from videos and podcasts I discovered on the platform while I drifted off to sleep since I was able to turn off my phone with the audio still playing. I also knew that there would be no noisy ad interruptions to wake me up.

The people who will get the most value out of a Premium subscription will be those who use it for its music benefits, too. The question is, are you willing to pick YouTube Music over Spotify or Apple Music?

As for me, an Apple Music user who can tolerate a few ads, I don’t see enough value to justify yet another recurring subscription. I also think it’s disappointing there isn’t a bundle with YouTube TV. 

Yet for those who watch lots of YouTube and are willing to make YouTube Music their go-to music service, this very well could be worth it. 

To sign up for YouTube Premium, click the button below!

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Matt Davis
Matt Davis
Matt Davis is a writer, entertainment critic, and content creator that hails from the Kanas City area. He has been featured in various publications, including TODAY.com and CNET. As the founder of Shall I Stream It? he has helped it grow into a multi-platform media outlet that reaches over 100,000 viewers each month.
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