Forward-looking: In response to demand from users and advertisers alike, YouTube has now added a library of over a hundred free movies and plans to increase that number as much as possible, as soon as possible. Since quietly sliding the free option into their “movie” section last October, they’ve added popular but cheap titles like The Terminator, Rocky, Legally Blonde, Zookeeper and Agent Cody Banks.
The traditional path of a movie is to go from cinemas, to DVDs, to TV. However with the introduction of various digital marketplace models such as paid subscription, digital download and free with ads, things have gotten a lot more complicated. Studios are still evaluating the profitability of this model, so it could be a while before we see some newer hits become free.
YouTube Director of Product Management Rohit Dhawan says that they’re still experimenting. "We saw this opportunity based on user demand, beyond just offering paid movies. Can we do ad-supported movies, free to the user?" he said to Adage. "It also presents a nice opportunity for advertisers."
The reasons users are supporting the change are obvious; everyone likes free movies. Several other platforms, such as Tubi for smart TVs and the Vudu app use the same ad-based model. But the main reason YouTube is integrating more movies is that advertisers have been asking for content that is guaranteed to be family-friendly.
In the last couple of years YouTube has been struggling to keep advertisements off videos promoting violence, hate speech or even terrorism. At the start of this year, they claimed they had solved the problem with better filters, but it was later revealed that their strategy was an absolute failure. By exclusively putting a companies’ ads in front of movies, YouTube can guarantee the brand image is protected.
Hopefully, this provides an incentive for YouTube to push movie studios enough to release some major hits for free.