Free Online Video Just Got Harder To Watch

Photo: Courtesy YouTube.
YouTube, long our go-to destination for free online video, is shaking things up. On Wednesday, it's launching a subscription-based streaming experience. While this does have some benefits, it also means one big thing: The world of free online video just got a little bit smaller.

YouTube Red (not to be confused with RedTube, the porn hub) is YouTube's answer to Netflix and Amazon Prime video. For $10 a month, you'll be able to watch YouTube videos ad-free — and get them for offline viewing, too. Starting next year, Red will also host original shows and movies starring — who else? — various YouTube sensations.

The new service includes YouTube Music (a sort of Pandora for YouTube's vast music content, which will be launching soon) and a Google Play Music subscription (in case you just want to listen to music and not watch video content along with it).

That all sounds great, but there is some bad news. Now, any previously ad-supported YouTube content is supposed to live in YouTube Red. Video providers have to sign a deal agreeing to YouTube Red's terms, or their videos will get switched to "private," effectively eliminating them from YouTube. The deal has already forced ESPN to remove a bunch of its videos, dating all the way back to 2012.

YouTube says that the majority of its partners have signed on to the new requirements. But either way, this means that if you don't have a YouTube Red subscription, there are a lot of videos you won't be able to view anymore. (Your favorite cat-compilation videos should still be safe, Red subscription or not.)

While YouTube Red might be a bummer for your pocketbook, once you pay, you'll get all those videos ad-free. If you want to sign up, we recommend doing so online rather than via the service's app; it will cost you $13 to sign up on mobile.

Between this and the news that torrent-based streaming service Popcorn Time is gone, it looks like those who are still freeloading off of the internet's video spoils won't be able to do so much longer. But at least we should have some cool new shows to look forward to next year?

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