YouTube to Roll Out Free Originals, Measurement Analysis

At IAB’s Digital Content NewFronts in New York City last week, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki revealed that 2 billion monthly global users now watch more than 250 million hours of YouTube content on TV screens daily. The video hub is actively working on brand safety issues, plans to integrate Nielsen Catalina analysis to measure increases in offline sales, and — in a significant strategy shift — announced it would remove the paywall for some of its ad-supported original programming. Starting this year, all of the platform’s new original series and specials will be available for free.

“The move comes after speculation that YouTube was struggling to make its YouTube Premium subscription-only plan a viable way to pay for the ongoing development costs of its Originals content,” reports Digital Trends.

“Initially, shows like the popular ‘Cobra Kai’ were only available to YouTube Premium and YouTube TV subscribers. Earlier in 2019, YouTube confirmed that it would switch to an ad-supported model for this content, but not until 2020. It appears those plans have moved up aggressively.”

While the company plans to offer more Originals as part of its ad-supported tier, it is not completely abandoning the YouTube Premium paywall.

According to DT, “ad-supported models for content that was once subscription-only are picking up steam. Hulu recently dropped the price of its ad-supported tier and saw an explosion in subscribers. Both Google and Amazon introduced ad-supported tiers to their music services, intended to grab new listeners among those who use Alexa and Google Assistant devices.”

While 70 percent of total YouTube watch time occurs on mobile devices, the company claims that there has been a 39 percent jump in less than a year regarding users watching YouTube content on TVs.

“YouTube’s momentum in the living room is a key part of its case to advertisers and agencies about why they should divert spending from traditional TV to YouTube,” explains Variety. “Across all platforms, YouTube reaches more U.S. consumers 18-49 in an average week than all cable TV networks combined, Allan Thygesen, Google’s president of the Americas, told the Brandcast crowd.” (Brandcast is YouTube’s annual event held during the NewFronts.)

“YouTube wants to expand the bucket of content watched on TVs that it makes available to advertisers,” notes Variety. “The company announced that it is updating the Google Preferred proprietary algorithm (P-score) to include more content that is frequently watched on TV screens and ‘content that exhibits higher production value.’”

Emphasizing its viewership numbers on TV screens, YouTube was looking for more spending from advertisers. As part of that push, “YouTube said it is making a third-party analysis by Nielsen Catalina Solutions of Google Preferred campaigns that will measure lift in offline sales for U.S. packaged good brands and provide performance insights about audiences and creative,” reports Broadcasting & Cable.