YouTube Premium is retooling its paid for ad-free service for original shows like Cobra Kai as all its exclusive content will be available for free next year. In a statement released viaVariety, a YouTube spokesperson made the announcement.
“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. 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.”
Roughly translated; the subscription service strategy wasn't working the way YouTube had expected, and the Google-owned platform has to adapt. According to multiple sources, YouTube is considering releasing an episode a week for free, but the complete series will be available to binge watch for Premium subscribers.
The exact number of subscribers remains a mystery, but the service that launched in 2015 has struggled to build momentum. The new strategy will allow all users to watch its originals for free online, but there will be ad breaks of some form scattered throughout. The knock on effect will see YouTube invest substantially less in scripted content by 2020, but the hope here is that the breakout successes will help fund new shows.
While some of its offerings such as Cobra Kai, Step Up: High Water, Origin, and the pilot for Impulse all made an impact and will be back for more episodes. The vast majority of YouTube's Premium content has been a mixed bag at best. I fully admit to paying to watch Cobra Kai; it was awesome and worth every penny. Beyond that, YouTube Premium didn't have the quality content to justify another subscription.
Unlike Facebook Watch only rolling out full seasons of Angel, Buffy, and Firefly in the US, YouTube will be unlocking its premium content globally throughout 2019. Some of the fresh shows we can enjoy next year, a TV spin-off from The Edge of Seventeen, Doug Liman produces a full season of Impulse, a reboot of his movie Jumper.