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YouTube to roll out Red to 100 countries

YouTube plans to roll out its subscription offering YouTube Red to around 100 countries this year, according to CEO Susan Wojcicki.

Susan Wojcicki

Speaking at the Code Media conference in California, Wojcicki described Red as “really a music service,” which it now plans to expand into many more markets after agreeing music licensing deals.

The service lets users watch or listen to YouTube content ad free, offline and in the background on mobile devices. Over the past two years YouTube has also invested in around 50 original series for Red.

Wojcicki explained that while YouTube started out by working with popular YouTubers on YouTube Red originals, it is now doing more around music, drama and other shows – adding this as a complement to what it now sees as fundamentally a music-focused offering.

Asked whether YouTube needs to buy a big company like Netflix or Spotify to up its content ambitions, Wojcicki said: “I think our goal is to continue to increase what we’re doing.”

“We are building that muscle of creating content; we’ll continue to do more and more and we’ll see what’s successful, we’ll see what our users respond to, what’s driving subscriptions, what’s being watched. I think one of the really amazing things about YouTube is the platform and the data that we have.”

Discussing online content rivals, Wojcicki said that Netflix and Amazon have done a “really good job” in the category of shows and movies, but stressed there are other avenues to explore.

“There are many other areas of content. YouTube and online have brought [about] new types of content that we just didn’t have before on TV,” said Wojcicki, citing educational, music, vlogging, gaming and health and wellness videos.

“Our goal is to be a leading video platform and to have a large, diverse set of content. We feel like there are all these categories that no one else is really providing a solution to and we can be best of breed there,” said Wojcicki.

“Shows and movies are a very competitive space. It needs to be paid for economically with a subscription service. You can’t just do the subscription service starting from zero. We’ve been in Red for about two years, we’ve been ramping up, and I think you’ll see us continue to ramp up, do more content and do content that appeals to our audiences.”

YouTube Red first launched in the US in late 2015 and the service is currently available in the US, Australia, Mexico, New Zealand and South Korea.