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All of YouTube Original Series Are Now Free, But with You’ll Have to Watch Ads

Nick Dimengo

YouTube has made significant changes to its original programing strategy, confirming that all of its original content will now be available to users on a free, ad-supported platform. With YouTube Premium capable of holding off any major script buys, the strategy — which had been in the works over the last several months — is official.

The video service has been hoping to expand and embrace its unscripted content to some of YouTube’s most recognizable personas, rather than compete in scripted original series given the amount of competition. With the announcement today, YouTube will now secure free windows for originals such as Cobra Kai, the Karate Kid continuation which the company has picked up for a third season; although the windows will vary for each title.

In a press release, YouTube mentioned that the streaming video company is focusing on three types of series: music, learning and personalities. Scripted shows will still remain a part of its overal content strategy and the development and programming plans, along with unscripted, interactive and live entertainment events.

Here’s what Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer at YouTube, said in the official announcement.

“For today’s viewers, primetime is personal and our content resonates so strongly due to the diversity and richness of our unmatched library and platform capabilities. — While every other media company is building a paywall, we are headed in the opposite direction and now have more opportunities than ever to partner with advertisers and share our critically- acclaimed originals with our global audience.”

According to YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, the shift came because of one motivating factor; where users watch YouTube. Wojcicki pointed out that most viewing occurs in the living room, where about 250 million hours of YouTube is watched, on average, every single day. With YouTube having the broadest reach of any ad-supported streaming service — and two million monthly active users across all devices — the company’s program direction as aiming to “delve into topics that people truly care about.”

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