Attempting to remain relevant and competitive with other streaming sites, YouTube has announced that viewers can now watch their original shows and movies free of charge. This is a detour from the current trajectory of the site that had been attempting to reel in YouTube Premium members by offering several free episodes of their original content – for shows like Sideswiped – while the remainder of the series could only be viewed by way of paid membership.
Within recent years, YouTube has begun to invest further in original content, though the site has yet to be considered in the ranks of dominating streaming sites like Hulu or Netflix. That said, announcements on a wide variety of new content have been exploding from YouTube in recent months, detailing projects including a Tom Felton led sci-fi series entitled Origin, an Edge of Seventeen TV series, and Wayne, a dark comedy from the writers of Deadpool. An abundance of fresh content is precisely what YouTube needs to become a true competitor in the streaming services realm – that, and content free from the monthly cost of a YouTube Premium account.
According to Variety, the recent decision insinuates a move away from the site's rather brief foray into content available for paying users only. The YouTube Premium accounts will no longer serve as the key to YouTube original content. Instead, Premium members will attain the ability to view content earlier than non-paying users while enjoying ad-free and offline viewing. Within the announcement, YouTube appeared more globally-minded, ensuring that their content could reach a wider and rapidly growing audience.
Almost indicating a return to its roots, YouTube plans to shift towards content focusing on celebrities and YouTube creators, though scripted content remains on their radar. Their "Single Slate" strategy will rely on ad support and will come into full effect by 2020.
YouTube has always been a safe haven where content creators have found the ability to reach wide audiences, without stipulations and by remaining free of charge. An entire generation of filmmakers and stars alike has relied on YouTube to project their voices on a worldwide stage. Without YouTube, the world may have never seen shows like Billy on the Street, Broad City, or Workaholics. This new path helps redefine the site for a new era, perhaps even returning to its original foundation. YouTube is not Netflix, but it plays an equally vital role in the industry in its own regard.