YouTube hosts the most massive collection of free videos on the planet. Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, it’s also opening up more than a dozen YouTube original series free for anyone to stream — without a subscription.
YouTube Originals available for free in front of the paywall starting April 8 include Joey Graceffa’s murder-mystery competition show “Escape The Night” seasons 1-4; “Step Up: High Water” seasons 1-2; “Impulse” seasons 1-2; comedy series “Foursome” seasons 1-2; and animated kids’ show “Sherwood.”
The titles were previously only available in their entirety to subscribers of YouTube Premium ($11.99 per month in the U.S.), but now fans without a subscription can watch them for a limited time for free without ads.
Of course, YouTube more than a year ago abandoned its strategy of using originals to drive subscriptions and has axed most of its scripted slate (with the exception of Karate Kid spinoff “Cobra Kai,” whose two seasons remain behind the paywall, and Liza Koshy comedy “Liza On Demand”). New original series and specials focus on music, learning and personalities — like Justin Bieber docuseries “Seasons” and James Charles’ “Instant Influencer” — and they’re available for free with ads.
Under the COVID-19 free-streaming push, YouTube will make additional shows free to watch over the next few weeks, including kids and family originals “We Are Savvy,” “Hyperlinked,” “Fruit Ninja Frenzy Force” and “Kings of Atlantis.”
“With a diverse collection of fan-favorite YouTube originals now available to stream for free, we are continuing to promote safety while offering our users of all ages entertainment across the globe,” said Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content.
Here’s the list of YouTube originals that are now free to watch (with an updating list available at this link).
- “Escape the Night”: Host Joey Graceffa ventures into purgatory to rescue his friends, a revolving cast of YouTube. Created by Graceffa and produced by Brian Graden Media.
- “Matpat’s Game Lab”: In the reality series and 360-degree VR experience, Matthew Patrick (better known on YouTube as MatPat) explores the real-life science behind popular video games.
- “Step Up: High Water”: Dance drama from Lionsgate, based on the movie franchise, stars Naya Rivera (“Glee”) and Faizon Love (“Couples Retreat,” “Elf”).
- “Impulse”: Supernatural thriller from Universal Content Productions, Doug Liman’s Hypnotic and showrunner and executive producer Lauren LeFranc stars Maddie Hasson as a rebellious small-town teenager who discovers she has the ability to teleport — which makes her the focus of those who want to control her.
- “Sherwood” (new episodes will be available weekly to stream for free): In this new animated spin on the Robin Hood legend, teen hacker Robin of Sherwood joins forces with a group of renegades to battle the elements of the flooded streets of 23rd century London to defeat the mad Sheriff of Nottingham.
- “Sideswiped”: Comedy from creator and star Carly Craig (“American Housewife,” “Hall Pass”) is about dating in the digital age — based on a true story. The series also stars Rosanna Arquette and Chelsea Frei.
- “The Sidemen Show”: The seven Sidemen brave experiences in destinations across the globe as they strive to conquer the elements. Produced by Blue Ant Digital Studios in association with Antenna Pictures.
- “Foursome”: Romantic comedy starring YouTuber Jenn “jennxpenn” McAllister, produced by AwesomenessTV.
- “Me and My Grandma”: Buddy comedy starring Eva Gutowski (aka MyLifeAsEva) and Rhea Perlman (“Cheers”).
- “F2 Finding Football”: Produced by Whistle, series follows soccer-skills specialists Billy Wingrove and Jeremy Lynch, the duo behind YouTube channel F2Freestylers.
- “Overthinking with Kat & June”: Comedy starring Tenea Intriago (“Law & Order: SVU”) and Alexia Dox (“Quick Draw”) from AwesomenessTV.
- “The Fake Show”: Comedy from popular Japanese YouTube creator Hajime Syacho in which his YouTube account is stolen by an impostor.
YouTube’s move to unlock the older original series comes after the streaming giant last month launched the global “#StayHome #WithMe” campaign, with videos from influencers encouraging people to self-quarantine during the pandemic. The initiative features PSAs with YouTube creators, music artists, athletes and celebrities including Emma Chamberlain, Markiplier, the Dolan Twins, Karlie Kloss, Venus Williams, Sam Smith, Shawn Mendes, Hailee Steinfeld and J Balvin.