“Are you suffering from thinning hair? We can help you!”
A middle-aged man with a baritone voice whispered in my Airpods with real concern. I startled and I almost dropped the glass bowl I was holding. I had put on some minimalism video on YouTube and was doing my dishes when this man spoke. It took me a few seconds to realize what was happening.
I am a YouTube junkie. I do not watch cute kittens or family reunion videos. I am over those categories for quite some time now. I consume a lot of information about a variety of topics like writing, blogging, minimalism, editing, productivity (irony!), personal finance and sometimes stand-up comedies and songs. Then I also watch tech videos mostly about iPads and Kindles. I always used to hate the advertisements that pop-up in the middle of the video. I don’t mind the ads playing at the end of the video or paper prints; some of them are very creative and fun. But not when it is played in the middle. I feel that even those who place ads get irritated when others’ ads show up in the middle of the video. And the most troubling ones for me were Byju’s and Wix just because I searched for a good online education platform for my daughter and I was once interested in creating a website. Damn, those contextual and targeted ads.
So, when YouTube introduced a free premium subscription trial for a month, with tons of features, I readily signed up. I was slightly concerned about the fact that Google is charging money for agencies to place ads and then charging users not to display the ad. Something didn’t feel right. Anyways, in the first 15 days, my YouTube consumption went up. I took a step back and started evaluating whether the subscription is useful for me or not.
Useful features of YouTube Premium for me:
- No ads in the middle of the video.
- Playing in the background. You can move away from the app and it will continue playing in the background
Not so useful features of YouTube Premium (again, for me):
- YouTube Originals – I hardly watched any of the original contents. In fact, I have scaled down on watching any series on any platform considerably.
- YouTube music – It is bundled with premium. However, I already have a Spotify and Amazon Prime Music with good Indian catalogue (and of course, torrent). So this was not a deal-breaker for me.
I decided to unsubscribe from premium. However, I wasn’t sure if I will be able to survive the ads and non-availability of background playing feature, particularly after being spoilt for about three weeks. On a side note: almost all the apps are providing background playing by default and I don’t feel right that this feature is being monetized.
Since I wasn’t sure if I should cancel or not, I was tinkering with this idea for a while. This is when I stumbled upon the Pause feature which I think is brilliant for people like me. Instead of cancelling outright, I can pause the subscription up to 6 months before I can decide to choose either way. So, I paused the subscription for five months.
The trial period is over and all the benefits are gone. That’s when the man with baritone scared me out of my wits pitching his product. The ads are back. YouTube algorithms are trying to annoy me now with two ads for every video. It’s now my time to fight the urge for the next 6 months and get comfortable with the ads and master the game of skipping ads. Patience is a virtue.
What do you think about YouTube Premium? Is it a valuable investment for you?