Google’s video site YouTube is about to change its strategy around its premium content from next year. YouTube’s new strategy, called Single Slate, will combine advert-supported and subscription content, meaning its original shows and films will become free for all to watch. This shift in strategy is in line with most of the content currently available on YouTube.
This single programming effort is expected to provide free “windows” for YouTube’s 2 billion monthly users by 2020.
Some YouTube Originals will remain behind a paywall in 2019.
The news is a sign that YouTube’s plans for dominance in original video have not performed as expected.
There is fierce competition in original programming in the shape streamers like Netflix and Amazon.
YouTube’s budget – rumoured to be hundreds of millions annually, is dwarfed by their on-demand video rivals, which spend billions every year.
READ MORE: Minecraft on NETFLIX: How to play Minecraft Story Mode on your TV
This makes it difficult for the site to compete on quality and attracting A-list talent.
YouTube began streaming its Original series and films for subscribers to its then-called YouTube Red service in 2016.
The service has since been rebranded as YouTube Premium, and costs £10 per month.
But YouTube Originals ran into difficulties almost immediately.
For example, YouTube’s high-profile vlogger PewDiePie was dropped after posting anti-Semitic content to his channel.
READ MORE: Nintendo Switch NEWS: Netflix app FINALLY ready, Halo on Switch, MASSIVE indie games boost
The lineup soon expanded beyond YouTube to include TV specials and films.
And YouTube began releasing bigger budget shows like “Origin,” from the production company behind Netflix’s “The Crown ” and “Step Up: High Water,” based on the “Step Up” film franchises.
Some sources believe the move to make content ad-supported and free will result in smaller budgets for new content.
However, YouTube only confirmed a pause in buying for the time being, not a scripted pullback, when asked.
“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,” a YouTube spokesperson said.
READ MORE: Super Smash Bros Ultimate release date: When is Super Smash Bros released?
“This next phase of our originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube generation.”.
YouTube has also confirmed its intention to continue investing in scripted programming.
“By any measure, 2018 was a breakout year for YouTube Premium and YouTube Originals.
“We expanded YouTube Premium to 29 countries, launched over 50 scripted and unscripted shows, and collected eight Emmy nominations and over 30 industry awards,” the spokesperson added.
READ MORE: Nintendo Direct Smash Bros CONFIRMED: Banjo Kazooie and DLC plans
“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.
“This next phase of our Originals strategy will expand the audience of our YouTube Original creators, and provide advertisers with incredible content that reaches the YouTube Generation,” they added.
Although YouTube Originals will be available for free by 2020, YouTube believes there will still be value in the YouTube Premium subscription.
Those who sign up will be able to remove the ads from videos, including the Originals, as well as enjoy free music and offline access to content.