YouTube plans to make all future original TV series and movies available to users willing to sit through advertisements for free by 2020. Viewers who prefer to watch without ads will still be able to pay a higher price — currently $11.99 per month — to watch that way on the Google-owned video site’s paid streaming service, YouTube Premium. YouTube currently boasts 2 billion global users.
“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,” according to a statement by YouTube. “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 rebranded its subscription service, YouTube Red, to YouTube Premium six months ago, but YouTube users don’t seem pressed to pay for the service when they can already get so much content from the platform for free. (To read one take on this idea, check out TV critic Tim Goodman’s reaction piece in The Hollywood Reporter.)
As part of the move, which YouTube is calling its “Single Slate” strategy, YouTube is cutting back its budget for scripted series and movies, an area that always has been difficult to break into and is now all the harder with such deep-pocketed players as Netflix, Apple, Amazon and Facebook in the mix.
That said, YouTube Originals, which is led by former MTV executive Susanne Daniels, still has several scripted plays in the works, including season two of its popular Cobra Kai, which picks up some 30 years after Karate Kid left off; season two of Doug Liman’s Impulse; Jordan Peele’s anthology Weird City and Kirsten Dunst-starrer On Becoming a God in Central Florida. Later this week, the service will air a four-part documentary on pop singer Ariana Grande that takes viewers behind the scenes on her Dangerous Woman tour.