YouTube has officially confirmed it is lifting the paywall on its “YouTube Originals” shows.
The announcement was made late yesterday to coincide with the company’s Brandcast advertiser event.
The video-sharing platform did not specifically state when exactly the change will be made but did say it will be happening soon.
Once it does take effect, many, if not all of the shows that are currently held behind the paywall will start to become free to all YouTube users.
Although this is a good move for YouTube users in general, it is not a coincidence that YouTube took the opportunity to confirm this during Brandcast as the move is really all about ads.
As part of the same announcement, YouTube made it clear that its Originals shows are gaining in traction and pointed to the likes of “Cobra Kai” and how the season two premiere “reached 20 million views in six days.” The even bigger picture was painted by stats such as “2.5 billion views across 50 shows” for YouTube Originals shows in 2018.
It is numbers like this, and the announcement at an advertiser-focused event that highlights YouTube is looking to reassure the advertising industry that’s opening more doors for advertisers to take advantage of going forward.
After all, if 50 shows can generate 2.5 billion views when held behind a payment model, those numbers could potentially become insignificant when high-profile content is opened up to the entire YouTube universe.
YouTube has come under fire in the last couple of years by advertisers due to a perceived lack of ‘brand safety,’ including issues where advertising was linked to videos that are at odds with the advertised brand’s ethos.
This will be seen as an example of how YouTube is looking to offer advertisers a safer environment to operate within on YouTube. Considering all of the shows discussed here are YouTube shows to begin with, they can almost automatically be classified as safe content.
This is only one of the many moves YouTube is expected to make in the near-future in a bid to trim down and upscale its original content. For example, rumors had already been circulating this was due to happen and even more recently suggestions came through indicating YouTube is looking to move away from premium scripted shows altogether.
While the extreme side of that remains to be seen, YouTube does now seem keen on providing more interactive shows that require a greater level of participation engagement from the viewer. YouTube is not alone in this either, with a few big-name services now starting to hedge their bets on this type of programming as a means to bolster their paid-for content and subscription value.
In contrast, YouTube plans to up its investment in content where you play instead of pay.
On the ad front, although these are likely to be seen as more symptomatic of traditional TV solutions than subscriptions, they are now starting to make their presence felt on the streaming world in a big way. YouTube opting to go the ad-supported route instead of a paywall is just one example.
Hulu has also seeing decent user growth at the moment and is expected to continue to throughout 2019. One of the more recent changes the service has made that will help fuel that growth further was the decreasing of the price of its ad-supported plan. This is at a time when many other services are further invested in the paywall model are upping their prices to match their own rising costs and need for greater investment in original shows.
It is worth keeping in mind the full details on how the the new Originals availability will be rolled out remains unclear. For example, the "YouTube Premium" paywall still is a thing and it seems unlikely YouTube will want to completely abandon the tier completely as it does provide ad-free access to consumers who want it and are willing to pay for it, as well as other perks and benefits.
Currently, the suggestions by YouTube is a window strategy will be used where premium shows become free to all for a limited period.