YouTube might yet stand a chance in the streaming wars. It just released 4,000 episodes of shows like “Heartland” and “Hell’s Kitchen,” all free to watch with ads. Each week, the platform will add 100 more titles, which will include both shows and movies.
The ad-supported tier isn't new, but the company is seriously expanding its offering with additional content. It already allows users to watch free, ad-supported movies from the likes of Disney, Warner Bros. and more. This month, it’s adding titles like “Legally Blonde” and “Gone in Sixty Seconds,” giving it a total of 1,500 movies.
The platform is trying to contend with other services that stream ad-supported TV, including Tuba and Roku, the latter of which wasn’t on good terms with Google last year. The companies came to an agreement in December to keep YouTube's apps on Roku's streaming devices and smart TVs after months of heated talks.
At the moment, YouTube isn’t most people’s first choice for ad-supporting streaming. According to data from Kantar, most U.S. households that signed up for free, ad-supported TV for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2021 chose Peacock, IMDb, Tubi and Roku.
Disney+ also recently tacked on an ad-supported tier, joining platforms like HBO Max and Peacock. With YouTube's addition of TV shows, it's looking a lot more like a streaming platform.
YouTube is also rolling out new navigation to help users more easily find TV shows. Once they select their show of choice, they will be able to choose to rent, purchase or watch for free with ads. Free streaming isn’t currently an option when users search for a show; instead, options to rent or purchase pop up.