YouTube plans to make all future original programming available to users for free with advertising, as the video streaming unit of Alphabet Inc’s Google seeks a bigger audience for shows and movies that had mostly been restricted to paid subscribers.
The shift in strategy means that starting next year, YouTube Premium will no longer have exclusive access to original programs, removing one of the main benefits of the subscription offering. YouTube’s paid option will still remove ads from originals as well as all other videos, and it comes with music streaming privileges.
YouTube has not disclosed the total number of subscribers for the paid offering, launched three years ago, which is available in 29 countries. It said its move to make programming free was aimed at satisfying growing international user interest in original programming and advertiser demand to associate with special content. The move also gives the company more flexibility in marketing its programs.
Some future programming or behind-the-scenes content may remain exclusive to subscribers, if only for a brief time, according a person familiar with the thinking. YouTube Premium costs about $12 a month in the United States.
The dozens of previously released shows and movies in YouTube Premium, such as the first season of popular action comedy “Cobra Kai," will remain behind the paywall, the company said.
In the meantime, Netflix Inc said it will adapt celebrated British children’s author Roald Dahl’s books such as “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and “Matilda" as animation series.
The streaming company said it signed an agreement with the Roald Dahl Story Co, but did not disclose the financial terms.
The other titles include “The BFG", “The Twits" and “Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator", Netflix said in a statement, adding that the production will begin in 2019.
The company, which had kept aside $8 billion to create original content in 2018, has already spent $6.9 billion on TV shows and movies by the end of its third quarter.
Netflix had 137 million subscribers to its movie and TV streaming service worldwide as of September end.