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YouTube drops paywall from some Originals, explores advertising

The details are still in the works, but some programs will become ad-supported.


In a strategic about-face last week, YouTube announced it will drop the paywall from its Originals programming and make the shows available on the free ad-supported platform with 2 billion users.

Until now, only consumers paying for the subscription-based YouTube Premium service, available in 29 countries, could see most of YouTube’s original programming. In 2018, YouTube launched more than 50 scripted and unscripted shows.

Why you should care

The details are still being worked out, but in the short term, some of the programs will remain subscription-based while some will become ad-supported. That means potential advertiser opportunities in the form of sponsorships or new ad inventory against the ad-supported Originals.

We’ve learned that new sponsorship opportunities and new inventory that may become available in Google Preferred are some of the options currently on the table. Google Preferred is an advertising program that lets marketers buy ads upfront on YouTube’s top-performing channels.

A YouTube spokesperson said, “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.”

While the changes signal YouTube is shifting strategies for Originals and its subscription service, for advertisers this “next phase” is likely to mean more premium inventory options.

More about the news

  • Sources told The Hollywood Reporter that YouTube had already planned to scale back its scripted output in 2020.
  • YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl acknowledged there will likely be a pause in buying new shows as the company shifts to its new release strategy, but said it’s too early to say there will be a pullback.
  • Kyncl told THR that advertisers have asked about programming that was previously ad-free. “If you look at our originals over the last few years, our main goal was to drive subscribers to YouTube Premium,” Kyncl said. “But through experimentation, we’ve also learned that we can make a lot of the projects work incredibly well when we make them available free to users.

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