YouTube Premium streaming review: Price and features
Amplify your experience for flexible views and tunes with no ads.
If your entertainment habits already include video-sharing giant YouTube, the small change for YouTube Premium makes for a big difference, what with the ability to watch or listen to videos on your own time — and without the advertising barrage.
Pros and cons
- No ads. Watch or listen without incessant interruptions from car or tech ads.
- Bundles YouTube Music. Browse tunes, personalize playlists or take up recommendations at no additional cost.
- Offline or background listening. Unlock the ability to download videos for later or bump tunes while you do other things.
- Multiple plans available. Choose from individual, student or family plans.
- Up to $17.99 for families. Yes, you can share access with up to 5 people, but it’s a steeper cost than Netflix Premium, TwitchPresents and other competitors.
- No discounts for subscriptions. You’ll pay a monthly fee for as long as you stick around, with no savings on longer-term commitments.
- Minimal extras. Your subscription doesn’t include rentals, pay-per-view purchases or paid channel subscriptions. And unlike Spotify, YouTube Music doesn’t offer lyrics, background details and other perks you might like.
What features does YouTube Premium offer?
YouTube Premium’s edge comes down to an ad-free experience and more flexibility in watching or listening, among other perks that can hit the right chords.
Subscribers gain access to exclusive content featuring famous YouTubers like Pewdiepie and better-known actors in movies and shows like the viewer favorite Cobra Kai.
Download and go
Save your battery and data with the ability to download videos for offline viewing up to 30 days later.
Tune in to the music you’re interested in without video, including background listening outside the YouTube app.
What devices is YouTube Premium compatible with?
YouTube Premium is available on most devices that allow you to sign in to the YouTube app, including desktops, laptops, smart TVs, gaming consoles, mobile devices and Chromecast Audio for music.
How much does YouTube Premium cost?
Formerly YouTube Red, YouTube Premium offers three main tiers with features tailored to individuals, families and students.
|Individual||$11.99 a month||Unlimited use of ad-free service Including YouTube originals, downloads and offline sharing along with a complimentary YouTube Music subscription|
|Family||$17.99 a month||Extends Individual benefits to up to 5 other family members ages 13 or older|
|Student||$6.99 a month||Unlimited access to eligible students at four-year colleges or universities|
YouTube’s fine print warns of restrictions to features based on device and location without transparency on the details.
YouTube Premium: free trial
As of writing, YouTube Premium offers a free month of ad-free access for new individual, student of family plan subscribers. You’re required to enter a valid credit card and allow recurring billing at signup, but you can cancel anytime within the month for no fee.
Keep in mind that at least a few customers on Reddit complain of charges to their card despite cancellations, requiring phone calls and extra work.
What can I watch with YouTube Premium?
All 1.3 billion videos available on YouTube — educational, gaming, unboxing, music and more.
Like Netflix and Hulu, YouTube’s dipped its toe into original programming through branded YouTube Original shows and movies. Among the most talked-about shows is Cobra Kai, which originally launched on YouTube Red and is slated for a third season in 2020.
Other YouTube Original titles include:
- Kevin Hart: What the Fit
- The Gift: The Journey of Johnny Cash
- Coldplay: Everyday Life — Live in Jordan
- Viper Club
- Could You Survive the Movies?
- Dallas & Robo
How much data does YouTube Premium use?
Data required for YouTube Premium increases as you step up the quality of video you’re interested in.
A benefit of Premium over standard YouTube is that you can significantly reduce the amount of data you use by downloading videos for offline viewing or listening. You can also set videos for limited data mode, which prohibits HD viewing when streamed on mobile networks.
However, audiophiles say that YouTube compresses videos more than other streaming services, which can reduce the content quality.
Compare streaming services
If you’re looking to escape the barrage of ads that have taken over YouTube and get a bunch of exclusive content to boot, a YouTube Premium subscription might be right for you, but if you’re not sold you can compare other online streaming options.
Frequently asked questions
Kelly Waggoner is editor-in-chief of Finder US. She's worked with publishers, magazines and nonprofits throughout New York City, including ghostwriting a how-to on copyediting for the Dummies series. Between projects, she toys with words, flips through style guides and fantasizes about the serial comma's world domination.
If you regularly use YouTube, you’re familiar with — and likely frustrated by — frequent interruptions by way of car ads and commercials for Google. (I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come to settle into the soothing sounds of ASMR before the incongruous assault of razor ads at ungodly sound levels.) Not to mention the frustration at needing to keep the YouTube app open and active to continue listening to or watching videos.
All of that and the ability to download videos for later entertainment can be resolved by subscribing to YouTube Premium.
But if you already get your fix from services outside of YouTube — say, Netflix or Hulu combined with Spotify or Apple Music — you might not need another subscription in your life.