Vlogbrothers say they turned down YouTube Red, remain skeptical of service

In a 17-minute-long vlog on his channel, Hank Green revealed that the Vlogbrothers had been approached to produce content for YouTube Red, the new ad-free subscription model that will also showcase exclusive content from established YouTubers. They opted out.

“We have so far said no,” said Green in his vlog. “We do feel a little weird. We feel weird about having content that people would have to pay for. I certainly don’t hold it against creators who are doing this.”

He continued: “I’m a little bit sit back and wait and see on anything big, new things happening on YouTube,” Green continued. “Systems are designed by the platform, but they are also designed by the users. Users kind of decide how these things get used, whether they get used, and how they’re going to feel about it.”

Green’s thoughts on the new subscription service join among many other YouTubers who’ve started to weigh in on the new initiative. In order to continue generating ad revenue on the platform, YouTube partners had to agree to a new payment system that includes them in the subscription service and receives a cut of payments based on watch time. In addition, some creators will be part of the Originals Program, with those contracts and deals undisclosed.

A Vlogbrother project for YouTube Red isn’t completely off the table, said Green, but for now they don’t have a new show in mind that would require outside funding, and they want to keep all their current programs free on the platform. Green’s Crash Course series  was part of a previous Creators funding program that pumped money into the YouTube economy to create new programming.

Green also wrote some thoughts about the platform and how it will impact creators on his Medium blog.

Let’s take a hypothetical YouTube power user. This person watches two hours of YouTube every day, roughly 400 videos per month. They’re diligent about not skipping ads and haven’t installed any ad blocking software. At a fairly standard ad rate of $2 per thousand views this optimal, ad-viewing person will generate around 80 cents of revenue for YouTube creators per month. Another 70 cents, roughly, are going to YouTube.

As I have said before, ads are a kinda shitty model.

Green also points out that for fans who want to support individual artists, their dollar will go further supporting them on platforms like Patreon, or buy purchasing merchandise, than by using YouTube Red. Regardless of the Vlogbrothers’ participation in the Originals programming, Green said he’s going to be a YouTube Red subscriber himself.

Overall, Green is invested in YouTube’s changing state and seeing what happens.

“To me, YouTube isn’t about free content,” he explained. “It’s about a place you can create content, and also have a path to being a professional creator of that content. And that is not like any other platform out there. That’s an amazing, wonderful thing about YouTube that I’m extremely grateful for. To me this is a logical step for YouTube, to create other ways for creators to fund their content, to create other ways for viewers to pay for it. Not just through their eyeballs and brains being affected by messages from people who pay.”

Screengrab via hankschannel /YouTube.

Rae Votta

Rae Votta

A former YouTube reporter for the Daily Dot, Rae Votta has more than a decade of experience in the digital and entertainment industries. Her work has appeared on AOL, Huffington Post, Out Magazine, Logo, VH1, Current TV, Billboard, and NYMag. She joined Netflix in 2016.