YouTube is easing up on YouTube Originals to focus on free viewing

YouTube’s been in competition with Netflix and Amazon, but a report suggests the platform is scaling back its investments in YouTube Original content.

Hollywood Reporter sources claim YouTube will be cutting back on its library of original shows starting in 2020 because of “serious budget reduction[s].” Now, if you’re an avid watcher of YouTube Originals, don’t fret. YouTube isn’t going to drop all of its Originals. It just isn’t going to be investing hundreds of millions of dollars to produce the shows. But there’s a silver lining: a lot of Originals will be free!

Why is YouTube cutting back its Originals?

Besides budget reasons, YouTube also believes the demand for paid YouTube just isn’t there. YouTube doesn’t “feel like there’s an opening” for its original scripted work like there is for platforms like Netflix and Amazon, according to a third-party developer.

Many paid YouTube Originals will be made free

YouTube’s Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl says the platform is in the midst of a shift toward free viewing for some new Originals. Kyncl also described the scale back of original content as a transitional pause rather than a permanent reduction of content. “[It’s] far too early to tell something that decisive,” he said.

Interestingly, there’s a few originals that actually work “incredibly well” when they’re free, according to Kyncl — which probably doesn’t shock you since everyone loves free shows. YouTube is reworking its model with this information in mind.

The new YouTube Original strategy is being called Single Slate. Single Slate will combine ad-supported and subscription VOD programming initiatives. In 2020, YouTube’s Original shows and movies will be available in free windows for all YouTube users to watch, though some Originals will stay behind the paywall, like Season two of “Cobra Kai.”

There is talk too that YouTube will release free episodes of original shows one at a time, while Premium subscribers would get all the episodes at the same time. Also, Premium users could access longer cuts of movies while standard users would get the standard versions.

It’s difficult to compete with Netflix and Amazon

While YouTube says this decision is to fulfill “growing demand of a more global fanbase” YouTube is feeling the difficulty of competing with Netflix and Amazon. Both of those companies spend billions of dollars to produce their original content. YouTube doesn’t because its priorities are different. YouTube’s audience goes to the platform to watch free content. By making some of their Originals free, they’ll be playing into their strengths.

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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