YouTube is the latest company to offer free TV series with ads. The video giant says you will now be able to stream nearly 4,000 episodes of TV for free, as long as you are also willing to watch ads during the show. Shows available include Hell’s kitchen, Andromedaand Heartland, and you will be able to watch them in the US on the web, mobile devices and “most connected TVs via the YouTube TV app,” YouTube says in a blog post.
With the new free TV shows, YouTube is taking on a number of major competitors. One is over-the-air TV – by offering free TV on demand, YouTube probably hopes you’ll see what’s available on their platform instead of channel surfing to see what else might be on.
And there are already plenty of options for streaming ad-supported TV for free, including Tubi, Xumo, Plex, Roku and offers from Vizio and Samsung – just to name a few – so YouTube is late in the day. That said, YouTube is also already there where a lot of people spend a lot of time watching videos, so it’s not hard to imagine people checking out TV shows, they can stream for free while scrolling through other YouTube -contents.
The free shows could also entice people to switch from Roku, a company that YouTube owner Google has had some very public disputes with. Roku, however, does not sit still; according to a November report, it plans to develop more than 50 original shows that could be shown on its free and ad-supported Roku Channel. If we look for potential users based on hardware ownership, then Roku, which says 155 million people live in households with Roku devices, is far smaller than YouTube. Google last said that there were more than 3 billion Android devices in the wild, and that’s only part of the potential devices that have easy access to YouTube.
YouTube’s free TV shows join the platform’s range of free movies with ads that currently include Away in sixty seconds and Legally blonde. The company plans to add up to 100 shows and movies each week.