YouTube is starting to provide movies for free

Gawain Hale Films/YouTube

Its list includes classics like ‘Rocky’ and ‘Legally Blonde.’

YouTube has quietly started providing movies such as Legally Blonde and The Terminator for free for its users, after years of requiring them to pay to stream movies on the platform. The company began doing this last month in their “Movies & Shows” section where they previously sold streaming entertainment, AdAge reported last week.

YouTube earns revenue from the movies through advertisements, instead of charging customers to view the movies. The movies YouTube is already showing for free have ad breaks, just like in many regular YouTube videos. This is Youtube’s first foray into free movie streaming with ad breaks.

“We saw this opportunity based on user demand, beyond just offering paid movies. Can we do ad-supported movies, free to the user?” Rohit Dhawan, director of product management at YouTube, told AdAge. “It also presents a nice opportunity for advertisers.”

It is not clear what model the video-sharing company, which was bought by Google in 2006, is using for this feature, or what kind of contracts they have with producers and advertisers. 

There are currently 100 movies available, according to AdAge, including Rocky, Legally Blonde, Agent Cody Banks, and Zookeeper.

Ad-supported video-on-demand, a growing market, could potentially mean advertisers could sponsor individual films, which could then be provided to the audience for free, Dhawan told AdAge.

But YouTube’s new service isn’t the first of its kind. Other companies have been in the market for some time. TUBI TV, which was named the “largest free ad-supported streaming network” by Forbes in January, has had 20 million installs since its founding in 2014.

This development comes at a time when people are increasingly watching YouTube and other streaming services on smart TVs—almost 20 percent of YouTube videos are watched on TV sets, according to AdAge.

H/T AdAge


Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque

Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque