YouTube confirms plans to make Originals available for free

YouTube Chief Business Officer Robert Kyncl reaffirmed the company’s plans to take its Originals out from behind the paywall, making them free and ad-supported.

Kyncl was speaking at YouTube’s annual Brandcast event, where the Google-owned company lays out its plans for advertisers (with lots of razzle-dazzle provided by musicians and YouTube stars). Since last fall, YouTube has acknowledged that it’s moving toward an ad-supported model for its Originals, and tonight, Kyncl said that all original programming moving forward will have an ad-supported window.

He didn’t say anything more about that window, but it sounds like YouTube isn’t fully abandoning paid subscriptions yet. Still, everything on its slate should be available for free at some point. That includes the first two seasons of the “Karate Kid” follow-up “Cobra Kai” — season one will be available for free from August 29 to September 11, then season two will become available.

“While every other media company is racing to put their content behind the paywall, we’re headed in the opposite direction by making our original content available for free,” Kyncl said.

He also announced that “Cobra Kai” will be returning for a third season next year, as will Kevin Hart’s comedic fitness series “What The Fit.” And he said YouTube is also working on an Originals project with Justin Bieber, although the company isn’t sharing any other information about it.

In addition, the team behind the popular Dude Perfect YouTube channel is working on a documentary that goes behind-the-scenes of their tour this summer. Other projects that YouTube announced today (though they weren’t mentioned onstage) include a documentary about Paris Hilton, expanded Lollapalooza coverage and YouTube’s first interactive special, “A Heist with Markiplier.”

In addition to Kyncl, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki spoke at the event, where she declared, “Prime time is now personal, and it’s happening on our cellphones. Every one of us has a new prime time.”

She also addressed the question of “responsibility,” which presumably refers to removing hate speech and misinformation from the platform. Wojcicki described this as “my number one priority,” and said YouTube is removing millions of bad videos every quarter, most of which “have not received a single view.”

“I recognize that there is still work to be done, but we are committed to getting this right,” she said.