Paywalls have always been a hindrance for streaming services. YouTube has been trying to get their original programming, following companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu. The major difference for YouTube is how will you get people to pay for something that they always got for free? Cobra Kai was a good lesson in getting people to sign up for YouTube Red, but keeping people is a harder thing. Hence, Cobra Kai: Season Three is happening. But, there will be a change.
YouTube has had a hit with the second season of the series, which has garnered a lot of positive reviews. In the first eight days of release, since April 24th, the series grabbed 23.2 million views. Keep in mind, this is still behind a paywall. The first episode of the new season is available for free, but the rest you need to either have YouTube Premium or YouTube TV. To attract more viewers, they will be dropping the paywall for this season and the upcoming season. Not just for Cobra Kai, but other shows on their slate.
“While every other media company is building a paywall, we are headed in the opposite direction and now have more opportunities than ever to partner with advertisers and share our critically-acclaimed originals with our global audience,” YouTube chief business officer Robert Kyncl said Thursday in a statement ahead of the company’s annual Brandcast event in New York, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
— Cobra Kai (@CobraKaiSeries) May 3, 2019
Starting this fall, all YouTube original series will have a free, ad-supported window. This includes new season of their original drama Impulse and the comedy Liza On Demand, all of which debut new season this fall. Starting on September 11th, the first two season of Cobra Kai will be available to watch for free with ads. However, season two episodes will be released on a weekly basis, so it will fall more in line with CBS All Access.
They have been testing the model with Kevin Hart: What the Fit, which has been renewed for a third season. According to YouTube, while Cobra Kai did bolster an impressive 23.2 million in the first eight days, What the Fit has received more than 274 million views since its release in 2018. New seasons of both shows will arrive in 2020.
The methodology behind YouTube moving to an ad-supported structure will be received well by viewers. Instead of paying $12 a month, you can see more content with a few ads. The structure that CBS All Access and Hulu, paying a monthly fee for ad-supported content, is not fun. Yes, CBS All Access has a higher-priced tier for no commercials, which is silly. Less silly than Hulu’s higher-priced tier for less ads. If you are paying for content, there should be no ads, like Amazon and Netflix. If I can get Cobra Kai: Season Three free with a few ads, bring it.