YouTube is taking down the paywall for Cobra Kai and other originals in exchange for free-to-watch, ad-supported programming.
YouTube made headlines when it introduced Cobra Kai, a Karate Kid sequel series to its subscription service YouTube Premium. However, it seems that the video behemoth will now be removing the paywall for Cobra Kai. The show will be ad-supported, but free to watch.
According to Variety, the entire first season of Cobra Kai is currently available to watch for free on YouTube, and season 2 will become free to watch beginning on September 11. YouTube first announced in May that it would be removing the paywall from Cobra Kai, as the show is the first in YouTube’s new strategy for original content.
Initially, YouTube offered a few episodes of Cobra Kai for free, and viewers really flocked to the content. As Variety reports, the first episode (which was available to watch for free from the start) has 55 million views to date, and the free premiere of season 2 raked in 20 million views in 6 days.
It was clear there was some serious opportunity for YouTube in creating original programming that was ad-supported and not behind a paywall. Because of the views from free episodes of Cobra Kai, the website has decided it will begin removing the paywall for its new original programming in exchange for free-to-watch, ad-supported streaming while keeping director’s cuts and bonus features behind the YouTube Premium paywall.
YouTube Premium never managed to gain traction as a subscription service, so it isn’t surprising to see the website rethink its strategy. However, this new approach to original programming will allow the site to take a more global approach to programming, as YouTube’s chief business officer Robert Kyncl said in a statement.
“Today, we are welcoming a global audience to enjoy our award-winning series and specials. We see a tremendous opportunity to develop more region-specific content, particularly in Europe, Asia and Latin America, and will continue to partner with the biggest stars and creators in the world to share their stories and voices.”
In addition to releasing Cobra Kai from the YouTube Premium paywall, YouTube will also be releasing a European show called Virtually History, a VR documentary commemorating the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a BBC documentary The Edge of Science. YouTube will also be releasing a range of Latin American shows that will be announced in the next few months. We’ll have to wait and see if other existing YouTube originals come out from behind the paywall as well.
It will be interesting to see how YouTube Premium evolves in the next few months. However, regardless of your feelings about their new approach, the good news is: If you’ve been waiting to check out Cobra Kai, it looks like now is a great time to check out the show!