Starting next year, YouTube’s original programming will be available to users for free and with ads. Calling it a shift in strategy, YouTube aims to meet the growing demand of its fanbase as well as provide advertisers with content that reaches these users.
YouTube said it will continue to invest in scripted programming in 2019. A spokesperson described 2018 to be a “breakout year” for YouTube Premium and YouTube Originals. It expanded YouTube Premium to 29 countries and launched over 50 scripted and unscripted shows.
The move also looks to give the platform “more flexibility” in marketing its content. With the free view of original programming that was initially exclusive to YouTube Premium subscribers, paid subscribers will still have the option to remove ads from the videos.
In addition, YouTube Premium subscribers will be provided early access to original and exclusive content for payment of the service.
This is not the only update from YouTube, as it introduces new student plans for YouTube Music and YouTube Premium. Catered to university and college students in the US, the plans are ad free and offer a discounted rate, and will expand to more countries in the future.
Launched earlier this year, YouTube Music allows consumers to listen, watch and discover music easily without having to jump back and forth between multiple music apps and YouTube. While YouTube Music is ad-supported and free, there is also a YouTube Music Premium version, which is a paid membership that allows consumers utilities such as background listening, downloads and an ad-free experience.
Just last week, YouTube revealed that it will be testing ad pods, which are two ads stacked back-to-back, with the option to skip directly to the content. This comes after an user experience research that shows that other than length of ads, viewers are “sensitive” to the frequency of ad breaks, especially during longer viewing sessions. The team at YouTube explained that lesser abandonment of content and higher rates of ad viewing can be achieved by better use of metrics with fewer interruptions.