YouTube is making moves to begin further competing with traditional TV by offering TV shows for free and much like traditional TV, the shows will include advertisements. While YouTube does allow live streaming on the platform, this new offering is for on demand streaming and not for live channels, other platforms such as Plex however, do offer some live channels with ads in addition to on demand shows with ads like what YouTube is offering.
YouTube will begin with shows such as Hell’s Kitchen, Andromeda, Heartland and more. The company says there will be almost 4,000 episodes available to stream and YouTube also claims up to 100 new titles will be added each week.
Additionally the platform has over 1,500 movies available to stream for free with ads, including movies from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, Warner Bros and Paramount Pictures. Alongside the ad supported free streaming of movies and TV shows, YouTube also offers users the option to purchase or rent moves and TV shows.
The new offering will initially be exclusive to the US, as are other offerings from YouTube - such as YouTube TV which offers many channels including live sport, recording without storage limits and more in exchange for a monthly fee. It is unclear if the ad supported TV shows will eventually rollout globally, since YouTube TV is still US only despite it launching in 2017.
It is probable that the platform may see some success with the new offering since YouTube claimed it reached over 135 million people on connected TV’s alone in the United States in December 2021.
YouTube is also making other changes to the platform, in the statement released by YouTube announcing free streaming of TV shows, the company said:
“To enhance the viewing experience, we’re unveiling brand new streamlined navigation and immersive banner art. The rich visuals and new menus will help you more easily find your favourite TV shows from the comfort of the couch, whether you choose to rent, purchase, or watch for free with ads.”
In Alphabet’s Q4 2021 Earnings report, the company revealed that YouTube ads saw an increase in revenue from $6.88 billion in the previous year to $8.63 billion in Q4 2021. YouTube is the second most popular website globally, just behind Google (who is also owned by Alphabet). As of November 2021 it was reported that the website received over 13.34 billion monthly visits.