YouTube will make its Originals free to watch for all, Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl confirmed. Previously locked behind the paywall, YouTube's bespoke shows will be available for free but supported by ads.
YouTube Originals include shows like Karate Kid spin-off Cobra Kai, just renewed for a for a third season. Speaking to advertisers at an event called Brandcast in New York, Robert Kyncl said that all original programming moving forward will have an ad-supported window.
YouTube should keep paid subscriptions for unrestricted access to this content, with these aforementioned 'windows' of ad-supported viewing. For example, Cobra Kai season one will be available for free from August 29 to September 11, and then season two will become available.
"While every other media company is racing to put their content behind the paywall, we’re headed in the opposite direction by making our original content available for free," said Kyncl. This kind of original content includes Kevin Hart's fitness-themed comedy What the Fit, and collaborations with celebrities like Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton. YouTube is also jumping on the interactive video bandwagon, starting with A Heist with Markiplier.
As well as the announcement regarding original content, YouTube recently crossed a milestone number of 2 billion logged-in viewers every month, as confirmed by CEO Susan Wojcicki at the same event. According to Wojcicki , viewers spend 250 million hours watching YouTube on their TV screens every day, up from 180 million hours in the middle of last year.
But with an ever wider reach comes a greater responsibility to the viewing public, something which YouTube has generally avoided discussing, citing commitment to free speech as a reason not to interfere in YouTube creators uploads (as creators will tell you, YouTube can be very hands-off or arbitrarily draconian when it suits them). Going forward, however, the Google-owned video sharing site joins other big tech companies in claiming, at least, to be working hard to remove harmful content from the site, including things like hate speech, misinformation, and child abuse.
What do you think of the current state of YouTube? Would you watch its original content for free?