Farewell, YouTube Premium? Video Platform Unveils Free, Ad-Supported Originals Offering

Despite the presence of more than 2 billion monthly active users (MAUs), YouTube executives are struggling to get people to sign up for its paid services.  Notably, YouTube Premium & Music Premium.

Case in point.  Shortly after the service’s paid video service launched last May, YouTube Premium – including Music Premium – no longer ranked among the top 10 streaming services in the U.S.

In last place, more people preferred paying for and watching DirecTV over YouTube’s offerings.

So, with few people actually shelling out their hard-earned cash for the service, the video platform soon unveiled a new strategy late last year.  YouTube would reportedly minimize its scripted shows.  Starting in 2020, the company would beef up its ad-supported offering.

This means the company’s coveted Originals – pretty much Cobra Kai – would eventually be free to stream.  Premium subscribers wouldn’t have to pay $12/month anymore to watch their favorite series.

Now, company executives are moving forward on their ad-supported strategy.

Throwing in the towel on YouTube Red Premium.

Yesterday, the Google-owned company confirmed that it will stream all of its original shows for free, but with ads.

This follows the video platform’s strategy to enlist major stars in unscripted shows rather than creating its own original programming to compete with Netflix, Prime Video, and Hulu, among many others.

According to YouTube CEO Susa Wojcicki, the platform’s MAUs consume around 250 million hours of its video offerings every day.  She shied away, however, from sharing actual Premium & Music Premium subscription numbers.

Unveiling a list of new and returning ‘Originals,’ including music specials, YouTube’s Chief Business Officer, Robert Kyncl, explained,

For today’s viewers, primetime is personal and our content resonates so strongly due to the diversity and richness of our unmatched library and platform capabilities.

While every other media company is building a paywall, we’re headed in the opposite direction and now have more opportunities than ever to partner with advertisers and share our critically- acclaimed originals with our global audience.

The new music specials include an unnamed Justin Bieber project, expanded Lollapalooza coverage, and Maluma’s ‘Lo Que Era, Lo Que Soy, Lo Que Seré.’

Yet, the ad-supported offering may only last for a short while.  According to Deadline, each original series will have a “run on the free, ad-supported side” of YouTube.  Series on the video platform’s “free windows” include Cobra Kai.

If true, expect the free, ad-supported series to only last for a short while before making the jump back to YouTube Red Premium.

If not, expect the company to throw in the towel on its third attempt to break into the streaming music and OTT markets.