Bottom line: Like other streaming offerings, paying affords a certain level of convenience but isn't entirely necessary if you're willing to sit through some ads and deal with a few other restrictions.
The countdown to (mostly) unfettered access to YouTube Originals is on.
YouTube late last year announced that by 2020, its original content would be available to all users, not just those willing to pay a monthly subscription fee. The change in strategy is designed to make its programming available to a wider audience and is happening sooner than anticipated.
Paying members will have access to ad-free viewing of YouTube Originals where free users will be subjected to an ad-supported offering. Furthermore, they'll have access to every episode of a series right when it premieres; only select episodes of a show may be available for streaming for free at any given time, essentially dragging on the concept of appointment viewing.
YouTube Premium subscribers will also be able to download YouTube Originals for offline viewing and have access to bonus content like director's cuts and extra scenes.
YouTube Premium commands $11.99 per month ($6.99 for eligible students / $17.99 for a family plan) and isn't bound by contracts or other restrictions. It also includes access to YouTube Music Premium and Google Play Music at no extra cost.