YouTube plans to make its Originals free to watch with ads from next year

YouTube is embarking on a bold new strategy regarding its original content, with the Google-owned video platform set to provide users with free, ad-supported versions of its YouTube Originals shows, as reported by Variety.

Though previously only available as part of a paid subscription service, YouTube Originals (like the utterly fantastic Cobra Kai) will be made available with ads interspersed in 2019 – no YouTube Premium subscription required.

“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,” said a spokesperson for YouTube.

The statement continued, “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.”

More like YouTube 'Freemium'

The second part of YouTube's statement suggests there will be more focus on celebrity creator content and less on scripted shows going forward, something echoed by Hollywood Reporter, which reports "a serious budget reduction" behind the scenes. 

That said, it's good to know that YouTube hasn't completely turned its back on scripted shows just yet, with a second season of Cobra Kai already in the works, along with a number of other projects, including the anthology series Weird City, produced by Jordan Peele (Get Out) and Impulse from Doug Liman (Edge of Tomorrow, The Bourne Identity).

According to Variety, those who subscribe to YouTube Premium will continue to receive ad-free and offline videos across the entire platform, YouTube Music Premium, and the added bonus of early access to its original and exclusive content in the near future.

Stephen Lambrechts
Senior Journalist, Phones and Entertainment

Stephen primarily covers phones and entertainment for TechRadar's Australian team, and has written professionally across the categories of tech, film, television and gaming in both print and online for over a decade. He's obsessed with smartphones, televisions, consoles and gaming PCs, and has a deep-seated desire to consume all forms of media at the highest quality possible. 

He's also likely to talk a person’s ear off at the mere mention of Android, cats, retro sneaker releases, travelling and physical media, such as vinyl and boutique Blu-ray releases. Right now, he's most excited about QD-OLED technology, The Batman and Hellblade 2: Senua's Saga.