What is YouTube Premium?

Is YouTube Premium a viable cable alternative?

YouTube Premium is a subscription-based service that provides ad-free access to all YouTube content. It covers the main YouTube website and app as well as YouTube Music. When you sign in to YouTube Premium, you can also watch YouTube Originals.

How to Sign Up for YouTube Premium

To sign up for YouTube Premium, you need a Google account. If you don't have an account, you can create one when you sign up for YouTube Premium.

YouTube Premium includes a free trial period, but you need to provide billing information. YouTube won't charge you until the free trial expires (if you don't cancel first).

  1. Navigate to YouTube.com/premium in a web browser and select Try It Free.

    To provide multiple family members with YouTube Premium, select save money with a family or student plan.

    The Try It Free button
  2. Log in to the Google account for which you want to set up YouTube Premium.

    If you don't have a Google account, select Use another account to set one up.

    Google account login screen
  3. Enter your payment information, then select Start Trial.

    The Start Trial button

YouTube Premium Family and Student Plans

A YouTube Premium subscription applies only to a single account. If you have multiple YouTube accounts, only the one you sign up with gets YouTube Premium benefits.

If you want to extend your YouTube Premium benefits to more than one person, YouTube offers a family plan. This plan costs about 50 percent more than the basic one. It enables up to six accounts to access all the benefits and extra content that comes with YouTube Premium.

What Do You Get With YouTube.com Premium?

YouTube Premium grew out of previous Google services like YouTube Red and Google Play Music All Access. It includes all the features and benefits that were available from those services. Here are the main benefits that come with YouTube Premium:

  • Ad-free videos: All videos on YouTube are available without ads. Don't worry about shorting your favorite creators, though. When you watch a video on a channel that would typically run ads, they get part of your YouTube Premium subscription fee.
  • Offline videos: With a tap of a button, you can save videos to watch later, even when you aren't on the internet.
  • Background play: This feature allows you to play YouTube videos in the background on a mobile device, which is useful for listening to music while using other apps.
  • YouTube Music Premium: Accessible through a web browser at music.youtube.com (and the YouTube Music mobile app), this service provides an easy way to listen to your favorite music, watch videos from your favorite groups, and discover new music, all without ads.
  • YouTube Originals: This content originated with YouTube Red. It includes original movies and series from popular YouTubers and mainstream stars.
  • YouTube Kids: The YouTube Kids app gets an ad-free experience and access to offline play.

What Are YouTube Originals?

YouTube Originals are series and movies you'll only find on YouTube. The original slate of YouTube Originals showcased breakout YouTube stars. It has expanded to include a variety of reality shows and scripted programming, including the critically-acclaimed Karate Kid sequel series Kobra Kai.

What's the Difference Between YouTube Premium and YouTube TV?

YouTube Premium is YouTube without ads plus extra content and features. YouTube TV is a direct cable alternative. These are separate services, and signing up for one does not give you access to the other.

Both YouTube Premium and YouTube TV give you access to YouTube Originals. However, YouTube TV subscribers still watch ads on regular YouTube videos and can't access other YouTube Premium benefits.

If you sign up for YouTube Premium and YouTube TV with the same email address, you can log in to YouTube TV and watch YouTube videos ad-free. This way, you don't have to jump back and forth between YouTube TV and the regular YouTube site. However, that's the extent of the integration between the two services.

Is YouTube Premium a Cable Replacement?

YouTube Premium isn't a direct replacement for cable in the same way TV streaming services like YouTube TV, Sling TV, and Hulu with Live TV are. It doesn't have live television channels, so you can't use it to watch the shows that air on cable or satellite television.

If you don't watch a lot of regular television and enjoy the content that's available on YouTube, that's a different story. Since YouTube Premium provides both YouTube content and YouTube Originals ad-free, it might be a viable replacement for cable as a primary source of entertainment and news.

How to Watch Original Shows on YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium is YouTube without ads. If you know how to use YouTube, you'll figure out YouTube Premium. If you're interested in checking out some YouTube Originals, here's how to do it:

  1. Go to YouTube.com and select Sign In to log in to your YouTube Premium account.

  2. Select Originals on the left side.

    The Originals heading on YouTube
  3. Scroll down to find the series or movie you want to watch. Select Play All to queue the entire series or select an individual episode to watch it.

    YouTube Premium originals page

What Is Background Play?

Background play is a YouTube Premium feature available on the YouTube mobile app. Without YouTube Premium, video playback stops as soon as you leave the YouTube app to use another app.

This feature allows videos to continue playing, either in a picture-in-picture thumbnail or in the background. Here's how to make use of background play:

  1. Launch the YouTube app and log in to the Google account with a YouTube Premium subscription, then search for a video and play it.

  2. Tap the Home button on the device to return to the phone's home screen.

    The Home button on a phone playing Bob's Burgers on the YouTube app
  3. The video appears in a thumbnail form. Drag the thumbnail where you want it, or tap the X to remove it.

    A YouTube video appears in thumbnail form on the Android home screen
  4. Open the system tray to pause or stop the video.

    Android system tray with video playback options

Playing a video in background play mode is useful for listening to podcasts, music, and playlists without leaving the YouTube app open. You can open other apps and lock your phone, and the video continues to play.

How to Download Videos and Music With YouTube Premium

YouTube Premium allows you to download and store videos for playback when you don't have access to the internet. This feature is only available on the YouTube and YouTube Music apps. It doesn't allow you to download videos from the YouTube website freely. Here's how to download videos from the YouTube app:

  1. Open a video you want to download in the YouTube app and select Download under the playback window.

  2. Choose the video quality you want, then tap OK.

  3. Go to the Library tab and tap Downloads to view the video once it finishes downloading.

    The Download buttons in YouTube Premium

For the most part, you can watch downloaded videos whenever you want, but there are some restrictions:

  • You can only watch a downloaded video when signed in to the YouTube app with your YouTube Premium account.
  • You need to connect to the internet at least once every 30 days, or you lose access to your downloaded videos until you reconnect.

What Happened to YouTube Red?

YouTube Premium replaced YouTube Red in 2018. It includes the same benefits as YouTube Red, like ad-free videos, and some new features. YouTube Red subscribers were automatically migrated to YouTube Premium when it launched.