By: Nick Gambino

If you’ve been having some trouble deciding whether or not to add YouTube Premium to your monthly subscription roster, you might want to hold off. It looks like YouTube is going to offer up all of their original content for free starting next year, according to a report from The Hollywood Reporter.

YouTube Premium, or the streaming service formerly known as YouTube Red, is the Google-owned video site’s answer to Netflix, Hulu, and Prime Video. Launched only two years ago, the idea was to create a paid subscription platform where they could offer original movies and shows. Again, like the other guys do.

The problem with their execution was twofold. First, they dedicated but a fraction of the budget that Netflix, etc., put into their shows and movies. We’re talking only hundreds of millions instead of billions. It might still seem like a lot but when you’re starting behind the 8 ball, that kind of cash will barely get you a seat at the table.

The other problem is the lack of hits. In fact, a cursory zeitgeist analysis tells me that Cobra Kai, the Karate Kid reboot/sequel show, was the only one that could be called a bonafide hit, and even that doesn’t breathe the same air as Stranger Things. For $11.99 a month and with multiple subscription services, it becomes hard to justify.

This doesn’t mean they’ll deep-six original scripted programming, but they’ll most likely pull back. The content they are developing will move from behind the paywall and be available in an ad-supported environment, much like any video you watch on YouTube now.

“If you look at our originals over the last few years, our main goal was to drive subscribers to YouTube Premium,” Robert Kyncl, YouTube Chief Business Offer told THR. “But through experimentation, we’ve also learned that we can make a lot of projects work incredibly well when we make them available free to users.”

They’re going to be testing different options like offering weekly episodes of shows for free with the option to binge the show in its entirety right away with a YouTube Premium subscription.

The switchover will occur gradually starting in 2019, and by 2020 we’ll see all YouTube Originals available for free with ads.


Nick Gambino is a regular script writer and tech beat reporter for NewsWatch. He lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and daughter.