×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

YouTube to Make New Originals Available for Free, Ad-Supported Viewing With ‘Single Slate’ Strategy

YouTube has concluded that its investments in original programming should have a home on the free, ad-supported side — not just tucked behind a paywall.

In a shift in strategy, the Google-owned video platform said that starting next year it will move to make all of its new original programming available for free for anyone to watch. With the change, YouTube is moving toward more mainstream celebrity-driven and creator-based reality fare, while it will continue to greenlight scripted productions.

Until now, YouTube Originals have mainly been available on its YouTube Premium subscription service, although YouTube also has expanded the shows and movies it makes available on an ad-supported basis.

“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,” a YouTube rep said in a statement. “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.”

The company calls the new YouTube Originals strategy its “Single Slate,” which will combine ad-supported and subscription VOD programming initiatives. By 2020, YouTube’s original shows and movies will be available in free windows for all YouTube users. In the near term, some original productions will remain behind the paywall, including next year’s season 2 of “Cobra Kai,” an offshoot of the “Karate Kid” movies.

The move will make YouTube Originals available to the platform’s nearly 2 billion users worldwide. That, according to YouTube, will give YouTube creators and other talent the opportunity to reach an even wider audience.

YouTube’s originals team will continue to be headed by Susanne Daniels, global head of original content, who joined YouTube in 2015 from MTV.

YouTube Originals have included bigger-budget shows like sci-fi thriller series “Origin” from the U.K.’s Left Bank Pictures, the production company behind Netflix’s “The Crown,” and “Step Up: High Water,” based on the movie franchise of the same name. On Jan. 16, 2019, YouTube Premium is set to premiere 10-episode action-comedy “Wayne,” created by Shawn Simmons and executive produced by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (writers on “Deadpool” movies).

The lineup of YouTube Originals has been a key value proposition of YouTube Premium, priced at $11.99 per month, which also offers ad-free and offline viewing. This year, according to the video platform, YouTube expanded the YouTube Premium service — initially launched in the U.S. as YouTube Red — to 29 countries and premiered more than 50 shows.

Moving forward, YouTube Premium will include early access to original, exclusive content as a reason to pay for the service. YouTube has faced stiff competition in trying to lure paying customers with original content against the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Amazon, which spend far more on content.

According to YouTube, the strategy of putting originals featuring homegrown YouTube stars on the subscription VOD service worked: That programming drove fans to sign up for the service and giving creators a new canvas for longer-form projects. The original shows have included sitcom “Foursome,” starring YouTuber Jenn “jennxpenn” McAllister and actor Cameron Moulène; murder-mystery show “Escape the Night” with Joey Graceffa; and “The Thinning” dystopian films starring Logan Paul and Peyton List.

Last year, YouTube expanded its originals slate to include ad-supported programming. That included “Kevin Hart: What the Fit,” produced in collaboration with Lionsgate, in which Hart tries various workout routines, and shows featuring Ellen DeGeneres and YouTube’s the Slow Mo Guys.

In September, YouTube worked with Will Smith to live-stream for free “The Jump,” his bungee-jump over the Grand Canyon to raise funds for charity. And on Tuesday, Nov. 27, it launched YouTube Original documentary “The Price of Free,” following Nobel Peace Price recipient Kailash Satyarthi and his team around the world on quests to find missing children, for free viewing on the YouTube channel of Rainn Wilson’s SoulPancake. The movie was produced in association with Participant Media and Concordia Studio.

At this summer’s Television Critics Association, YouTube announced renewals for “Impulse,” “Step Up: High Water,” “Mind Field,” “Foursome,” “Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television,” “Kevin Hart: What the Fit” and “Cobra Kai,” which are set to return in 2019.

YouTube launched its initial slate of original series and movies in early 2015. In those early days, the lineup included the “Scare PewDiePie” reality-adventure series and Rooster Teeth’s “Lazer Team” sci-fi action-comedy.

YouTube hasn’t ever disclosed how many subscribers it has signed up for the premium subscription service. It also offers YouTube Music Premium, an ad-free, music-only service, for $9.99 monthly, as well as YouTube TV, a bundle of live TV channels and on-demand programming, for $40 per month.

Pictured above: YouTube original series “Cobra Kai”

More TV

  • Willow ShieldsVariety Portrait Studio, Beautycon Festival

    'Hunger Games' Alum Willow Shields Joins Netflix Drama Series 'Spinning Out'

    Willow Shields has been cast in a series regular role in “Spinning Out,” the upcoming ice skating drama series at Netflix. She joins a cast that also includes Kaya Scodelario, who was announced as the series lead on Thursday, taking over the role originally held by Emma Roberts. Shields will star as Serena, Kat Baker’s (Scodelario) [...]

  • Adam Levine Cardi B

    Maroon 5 and How the Super Bowl Halftime Show Became Music's Least Wanted Gig

    Who would have thought that the Super Bowl Halftime show, an American institution watched by more than 100 million people, would become the least wanted gig in music? But thanks to the ongoing controversy concerning the NFL’s stance on a player’s right to protest, brought to the forefront by football’s top conscientious objector Colin Kaepernick, [...]

  • CBS Studios Exterior

    James Corden's Fulwell 73 to Develop Sci-Fi Drama at CBS (EXCLUSIVE)

    CBS is developing a drama series that hails from James Corden’s production company, Fulwell 73, Variety has learned exclusively. The series is titled “Embody.” In the series, after a mission gone wrong renders her permanently blind, a special agent volunteers for an experimental government program that can temporarily transfer her consciousness into someone else’s body, giving [...]

  • Jimmy Kimmel's Latest Trolling Effort Involves

    Jimmy Kimmel's Latest Trolling Effort Involves 'Fortnite'

    The latest request from Jimmy Kimmel asks parents to turn off the TV while kids are playing “Fortnite.” The host of Jimmy Kimmel Live explained that he asked parents to prank their kids with a new Youtube Challenge called “Hey Jimmy Kimmel, I turned off the TV during Fortnite.” Parents participated by filming the results [...]

  • Celebrities Sound Off on 2018

    Celebrities Pick Their Favorite Movies and TV Shows of 2018

    Still looking for the latest and greatest movie, TV series or book to finish before the year is out? Why not ask the folks behind Hollywood’s favorite hits, what they’re reading and viewing this 2018. We reached out to the stars and creators behind the things you love (including Barry Jenkins, Steven Canals and Dan Levy)  to [...]

  • Mary Poppins 1964

    P.L. Travers' Efforts to Adapt 'Mary Poppins' for Film, TV Were Often Less Than Jolly

    Disney’s “Mary Poppins Returns,” a sequel decades in the making, opens Dec. 19. Even before the 1964 original, Hollywood made several attempts to adapt P.L. Travers’ books, with Samuel Goldwyn and Katharine Hepburn among those involved in the chase. But aside from a one-hour 1949 CBS television version, they all hit a dead-end. The first [...]

  • Morgan Spurlock Sexual Misconduct

    Morgan Spurlock to Pay TNT $1.2 Million After Abandoning Docuseries

    Morgan Spurlock has reached a settlement with Turner Entertainment Networks a year after he confessed to a history of sexual misconduct and walked away from a documentary series. Spurlock’s company, Warrior Poets, has agreed to pay Turner $1,173,707, according to a final judgment filed in federal court in Los Angeles on Thursday. In the spring [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content