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What is YouTube Premium? Price, content, and more

YouTube Premium on iPhone.
Phil Nickinson / Digital Trends

YouTube is such a common part of internet infrastructure that it’s now used for everything from entertainment to recording work events to livestreaming conferences to publishing the newest music videos. But as the platform has grown, it has become more and more reliant on ads. If you’re sick of ads before, during, and after YouTube videos, then you can consider paying for a subscription for YouTube Premium so you won’t have to see any more ads while browsing or watching videos.

The YouTube family of products can be a bit confusing, however. As well as YouTube Premium, there are other paid services like YouTube Music, YouTube TV, the now-defunct YouTube Go, plus some free movies on YouTube you don’t want to miss. But the price for YouTube Premium has changed since it launched, so it’s worth taking some time to consider how much you’ll be paying and whether it’s worth it for you — or even if you could save some money using options like the YouTube Premium family plan or the free trial.

If you’re thinking about paying for YouTube but you’re not sure what the best option is, then our guide has the essential information you need to know about the YouTube Premium service, such as what it includes and how much it costs.

What is YouTube Premium?

YouTube Premium is a subscription-based service (it debuted as “Music Key” in 2014 and, as with many Google services, was eventually rebranded to YouTube Red before arriving at its current name) that adds several features to the basic YouTube experience.

Unlike Spotify or Apple Music, it’s not a dedicated music streaming platform. Rather, it’s a multifaceted offering that boasts a number of small benefits to improve your YouTube experience, including ad-free YouTube video and YouTube Music streaming, offline playback, and access to exclusive, paywalled content. (Most of this content is created by well-known YouTubers and influencers.)

How much does YouTube Premium cost?

Considering the vast majority of YouTube content is free, the first thing that likely came into your mind was, “OK, so how much does it cost?” Well, unfortunately, it’s now a little more expensive than it was at launch.

An individual plan is $14 per month after a one-month trial, after seeing a $2 increase in July 2023. And previously, in October 2022, YouTube informed subscribers that the price of a family plan would increase from $18 per month to $23 per month.

Family plans allow up to six accounts total, so it’s still a budget-friendly offering if you’re sharing it with friends or actual family members.

Students can also subscribe to YouTube Premium for $8, although they’ll need to verify their student status once a year.

If you’re interested in YouTube’s original programming, YouTube Originals are free to watch and are also ad-free for Premium subscribers. However, non-Premium subscribers can still watch YouTube Originals free with ads.

What do you get with YouTube Premium?

As mentioned, YouTube Premium comes with a slew of benefits. We’ll run them down to simplify things for you.

Ad-free viewing

As mentioned above, a YouTube Premium subscription removes all advertisements from YouTube. This includes both banner ads and video ads (whether you’re in a desktop browser or on mobile) and extends to the YouTube Music app. For many, the default ad load isn’t too heavy, but YouTube brass has let on that those who “use YouTube like a paid music service” might encounter increased ad density.

Ad-free viewing extends to any platform on which you use YouTube Premium, including the web, smartphones, Roku, or any other streaming device.

YouTube Originals

YouTube Originals is dead insofar as you shouldn’t expect to see any new content under that branding. The YouTube Originals channel still remains, however, with more than 6.7 million subscribers and a host of shows and various other videos.

YouTube Music Premium

YouTube Music with background play.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Originally, a YouTube Premium subscription got you access to Google Play Music, but Google has streamlined its music offerings down to just YouTube Music. With YouTube Premium, you’ll also get access to YouTube Music Premium (normally $10 per month). Like YouTube Premium, YouTube Music Premium offers ad-free playback, offline viewing, and background play on mobile.

Background play on mobile

With a YouTube Premium subscription, you can lock your phone (or switch to a different app), and videos will continue to play in the background. This is a nice feature for listening to podcasts and the like or if you just want to listen to a song but can’t find it on any other platform. It works in the YouTube app and the YouTube Music app.

Offline viewing

You can download videos (and whole playlists) for offline viewing with YouTube Premium, a very useful feature for plane flights (or, really, any time you want to save mobile data or expect to have poor service). You will need to have a fair bit of free space on your phone, but downloading songs via YouTube Music instead of the default YouTube app mitigates this to a degree.

Can you get a free trial of YouTube Premium?

Even if you watch a lot of YouTube, you might wonder whether it’s really worth spending more than $10 a month on a Premium subscription. Sure, no ads sounds nice, but will it make a difference to your watching experience? And if you haven’t used YouTube Music before and you currently use another service like Spotify, you might want to test out whether you like the new service before deciding to pay for it.

Fortunately, there is an option to get a free trial of YouTube Premium so you can see if it’s worth it for you to pay the subscription price. As long as you’re a new customer, anyone can get a one month free trial of the Premium service. You don’t need to pay any money up front for the first month, but you do need to hand over payment information. If you decide to keep the subscription, you’ll be automatically charged the regularly monthly subscription fee once your trial ends. If you decide it isn’t worth paying for, you can cancel your Premium trial and not have to pay anything.

It’s also worth keeping an eye out for free trials of YouTube Premium that come bundled with other services. If you get a subscription to Discord Nitro, for example, you can get a three month free trial of YouTube Premium (but only if you’re not already a Premium subscriber). You’ll get a code from within Discord which you can then enter into YouTube to start the free trial of Premium.

Given how many different companies Google has interactions with, there are often free YouTube Premium deals bundled with other subscriptions so it’s worth looking around for options if you want to try out the service for free.

Is YouTube Premium worth it?

All streaming services have different values for different people. If you’re not a big YouTube consumer, you don’t need YouTube Premium — especially if you’re already happily subscribed to Spotify or Apple Music and don’t need the YouTube Music bonus.

But if you use YouTube religiously, have specific creators you love, and want to consume as much original content as you can, the $14-per-month price tag might be worth it. It’s about the same as most traditional streaming services, after all. Plus, you can cut down on the price by splitting a $23-per-month family plan with just one other person.

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Kris Wouk
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Kris Wouk is a tech writer, gadget reviewer, blogger, and whatever it's called when someone makes videos for the web. In his…
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