Google launched YouTube Premium in South Africa on 12 March, offering subscribers the service for R71.99 per month, or a family plan for R109.99 per month.
This is significantly cheaper than in the US, where YouTube Premium is $11.99 (R170) per month.
However, South Africans who signed up for the service soon discovered they didn’t get access to all the features they were expecting.
YouTube Premium offers ad-free viewing of the standard YouTube service, background playback on mobile devices, and access to the standalone YouTube Music Premium service. These features are all available in South Africa.
Access to YouTube’s Original shows and movies, such as Cobra Kai and Bodied, are also meant to be included in the package. Unfortunately, access to YouTube Originals in South Africa is limited.
Only a few series and a handful of movies are currently available to subscribers.
Film and Publication Board
Google told MyBroadband that the reason for the limited number of YouTube Originals in South Africa is due to its age restriction obligations.
“We abide by local ratings regulations for YouTube Originals. We hope this content will be available on YouTube Premium in South Africa as soon as possible,” Google said.
In other words, Google is waiting for the Film and Publication Board (FPB) to classify its movies and shows – and provide them with appropriate age restrictions.
The FPB is a government-sanctioned agency which provides films, TV series, and video games with age restrictions.
It has made headlines for activities such as trying to age restrict artwork featuring Jacob Zuma’s penis, or its its Appeals Tribunal classifying films like Inxeba (The Wound) as hardcore pornography, preventing its distribution.
The FPB has also been in the spotlight for trying to regulate the Internet in South Africa with an amendment to the FPB Act that has been dubbed the “Internet Censorship Bill”.
When the FPB is not making the news for censorship or trying to enforce questionable fees on online streaming players, it gives age restrictions to content for parents to make informed decisions about what their children should be exposed to.
These ratings include notifications to indicate why an age restriction is applied, such as violence, language, sex, nudity, prejudice, and substance abuse.
As soon as the FPB has issued such classifications to YouTube’s content, it is understood that the blocked series and movies will become available on YouTube Premium in South Africa.