Emulation Is Not a Product Strategy

If something worked for one company, that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for yours

Jesse Weaver
Published in
6 min readDec 14, 2018


Photo: Jesse Weaver

RRecently, YouTube announced significant changes to their subscription platform, YouTube Premium (formerly YouTube Red). They are stepping away from subscriptions and will be opening up their premium content for free, with ads, to all YouTube users. USA Today published an article about the change, titled “Not Everyone is Willing to Pay for Subscriptions. Just ask YouTube.” According to the article, people are burnt out on subscriptions — or, as the article put it, “The people have spoken. Enough with all those subscriptions.”

There are a lot of subscription services out there and, yes, it is possible that we may hit a saturation point. However, I don’t believe this was the problem with YouTube Premium. People will pay for almost anything that delivers what they deem to be valuable and that fits into their view of the world. They’ll even go into debt to do it. It’s why there are endless credit card offers.

I think the actual problem with Premium is that YouTube decided to play “me too” with other streaming services.

YouTube built their strategy around what everyone else was doing, and now they are coming to grips with a truth that is all too frequently ignored…