YouTube is changing its original content strategy.
Starting next year, YouTube its original content free to watch on the platform. Previously, the company’s scripted shows like the Karate Kid spinoff Cobra Kai were only made available to users who paid for its subscription offering, YouTube Premium. For non-Premium subscribers, YouTube’s free to watch originals will be ad-supported.
The video platform’s paid subscription service originally launched in 2015 as . The company as YouTube Premium last year. In the early days of the subscription service, the platform’s original content mostly consisted of premium series’ starring YouTube creators like PewDiePie. Not too long after, the site started investing in higher quality productions with films like Step Up: High Water, based on the dance movie franchise, and the sci-fi series “Origin” from the same production company who created Netflix’s The Crown.
However, even when entering the scripted original content market, the San Bruno, California based video platform was always competing at a lower-end then players like Netflix and Amazon. While those two premium streaming giants spend billions on productions, YouTube’s annual budget was much less, spending hundreds of millions on original programming. And while Netflix and Amazon sought to raise their budgets even further, that YouTube was looking to hold its annual production budget right where it was.
Despite making its premium content free and planning to reduce its original programming, YouTube isn’t giving up on its subscription service. According to , moving forward, the $12 a month service will offer early access to YouTube’s original offerings. The subscription service will also continue to provide an ad-free experience for subscribers as well as its offline viewing option.
While the YouTube doesn’t disclose how many users subscribe to its premium service, the video platform’s focus has clearly been on its lucrative ad-supported viewing model. The Google-owned company has recently been with ad on the service. Just last week, YouTube rolled out a on its Movies & Shows vertical that brought ad-supported full-length Hollywood features to the platform.