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YouTube to Make Premium Originals Free With Ads: Reports

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The world's largest online video destination appears to see more of a future in free ad-supported programming than subscriptions. Reports from The Hollywood Reporter and Variety say the site will evolve its premium originals strategy starting in 2019, making most of its titles free to view with ads. YouTube sees this as a unifying move, reports say, which will offer free viewing windows for all of its original content by 2020. Popular titles including "Cobra Kai" will stay subscription-only in 2019, but even that will change in 2020.

Commentators see this as evidence that YouTube hasn't been successful selling subscriptions, and is unable to compete with the major OTT services when it comes to original content.

“As we look to 2019, we will continue to invest in scripted programming and shift to make our YouTube Originals ad-supported to meet the growing demand of a more global fanbase," an unnamed spokesperson told Variety. It reports YouTube will shift production to more mainstream and celebrity-driven programming, presumably offering less tween-oriented and scripted content.

YouTube Premium sells for $11.99 per month, or $6.99 per month for students. The service is expected to live on, providing ad-free viewing, streaming music, and offline access for subscribers.

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