James Cameron’s sci-fi extravaganza The Terminator, fan favourite Rocky and iconic comedy Legally Blonde are among the first wave of ad-supported films YouTube is now offering for free.
The move is possible thanks to a partnership between YouTube and Hollywood studio MGM – with more partnerships expected to be in the works – in a bid to generate new forms of revenue. In the near future, advertisers may even be able to pay to sponsor specific films, offering users a chance to watch exclusive screenings of complementary features.
For now, the content is only available in the US, but it’s expected to roll out to other countries in the near future. The ads pop up at regular intervals throughout the movie unless users pay US$9.99 per month for a premium subscription.
YouTube has already been testing the grounds of video on demand (VOD) for years, offering a roster of films similarly to how Apple iTunes and Amazon Prime operate, but this is the first time they are offering full-length films for free.
The streaming giant started quietly promoting the free titles on a dedicated movie section this October.
The ad-supported VOD market is getting increasingly crowded, with companies like Hulu, Tubi and Vudu already competing for views. Add to that already packed scenario the rumoured ad-supported VOD app Amazon is developing, and it’s not difficult to see all players in the industry are sensing there is a lot of money to be made in that arena.
YouTube currently has a selection of around 100 ad-supported titles, among them Agent Cody Banks, Zookeeper, All Dogs Go To Heaven, Igor and With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story.
YouTube’s push to enter the promising ad-supported video market comes accompanied by an investment in original programming, having recently produced exclusive shows like Cobra Kai and Will Smith’s The Jump, in which we saw the beloved celebrity bungee-jumping from a helicopter into the Grand Canyon.