YouTube is rethinking its premium video strategy.
Rather than seek to drive viewers to its subscription services to watch content, including originals such as “The Karate Kid” reboot “Cobra Kai,” YouTube says it will begin making more of its programs available for free. The catch: You will just simply have to watch some commercials.
YouTube will also scale back its programming output.
This doesn’t necessarily mean the end of YouTube Premium, the rebranded $11.99 monthly subscription service the Google-owned video giant launched just six months ago. That supplanted YouTube Red, a subscription service launched three years ago.
But by 2020, YouTube will adopt a “Single Slate” strategy for its original programming, including all video whether it be subscription or ad-supported. All content will get be available free in some fashion; until then, some originals such as “Cobra Kai” are expected to remain exclusive to subscribers.
“As we look to 2019, we will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase,” YouTube said. “This next phase of our originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube generation.”
YouTube has found it tough going in the competition for original streaming content as Netflix and Amazon invest billions in creating binge-worthy TV series and movies. Earlier this year, YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl told Bloomberg the video company would hold its spending at current levels for the next two years. Bloomberg reported that YouTube planned to send a few hundred million dollars on TV shows and movies.
Earlier this month, YouTube made more than 100 MGM films, including “Rocky” and the original “Terminator,” available for viewing free, with ads.
However, observers shouldn’t consider this a step back in commitment to YouTube Premium, Kyncl told The Hollywood Reporter. “One of the main reasons that people publish content to YouTube is for this incredible global reach,” he told the site. “The same should be true for our originals.”
Source: Mike Snider, USA TODAY
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