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You’ll Be Able To Watch YouTube Originals For Free Later This Year, If You Can Stand Ads

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YouTube is reaffirming what it said back in November — its original programming lineup will be made free for everyone to watch sometime later this year, to be supported with ads.

It's considered to be a shift in strategy for YouTube, which has previously made original content available only to subscribers of YouTube Premium.

YouTube Originals For Free

This evolution has been in the works over the last several months, as Deadline reports, with YouTube holding off on any major scripted buys in that period. YouTube is also rethinking what type of content to make, or at least which to prioritize making. Last fall, the company started embracing unscripted shows that focus more on recognizable personalities as opposed to developing original scripted programming. In the latter approach, YouTube is competing with a lot of industry heavyweights already with their own excellent, award-winning content, including Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, just to name a few.

To grow viewership of YouTube's content, it will secure free windows for originals such as Cobra Kai, the Karate Kid spinoff to which it's given a third season. The exact windows are expected to vary somewhat with each property, according to Deadline.

CEO Susan Wojcicki described the change in strategy as YouTube's attempt to "delve into topics that people truly care about," which is why, she added, "people watch YouTube."

Scripted Programming Still A Priority

In a press release, YouTube said that it would now focus on three types of series: music, learning, and personalities. However, scripted content will still be an active component of its overall plans, joining unscripted, entertainment, and interactive programming, not unlike Netflix's Bandersnatch.

"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," said Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl. "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."

YouTube Originals garner massive viewership. Last year alone, YouTube had over 2.5 billion views across 50 shows — it hopes the upcoming free tier boosts views even further. YouTube is set to announce free ad-supported premiere dates for other shows at a later date. These include supernatural drama Impulse and comedy Liza On Demand, which stars YouTuber Liza Koshy.

Make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more.

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