YouTube has announced that it will start broadcasting free TV shows with ads, with hundreds of programs expected to be available.
The platform is the second most visited site on the web, after that of its parent company Google, and the move will seriously challenge competitors who offer free streaming entertainment – as well as TV shows.
At launch, the company said the service will include a handful of TV shows, including Hell’s Kitchen with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
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The on-demand service will initially only be available in the United States, but it will have a major advantage over linear programming by allowing consumers to choose what they want to watch.
This comes as YouTube has also made over 1,500 movies available for free viewing – with ads – including Legally Blonde and Gone In Sixty Seconds.
YouTube cited Nielsen’s estimates that it reached more than 135 million people on smart TVs in the US in 2021.
One of the most disruptive aspects of tech giants like Google and Facebook has been the amount of ad spend they’ve captured from legacy print and broadcast media.
YouTube reported bringing in almost $20bn (£15bn) in advertising revenue in 2020 globally, which equates to around 14% of global TV advertising spend according to Statista.
The company’s highest paid content creators – whose videos are placed alongside these ads – are estimated at several million each.
Other stars and celebrities such as Logan Paul mainly use their popular channels to advertise other businesses, as in The case of Mr Paul his boxing career.