YouTube making original series like ‘Cobra Kai’ free to watch with ads

YouTube Originals including the upcoming third season of "Cobra Kai" will soon be free to watch. (YouTube/Google)

YouTube announced this week that it is taking down the paywall for its original series like “Cobra Kai” and making them free to watch with ads for all consumers.

YouTube Originals, which the company said have attracted more than 2.5 billion views across 50 shows, previously were available only to YouTube Premium subscribers. But the company said now all new YouTube Originals series and specials will be ad-supported.

“This gives advertisers more opportunities to engage with a broader audience, drive meaningful results and align with top Hollywood talent and YouTube creators,” wrote Kate Stanford, head of global advertiser marketing at YouTube, in a blog post.

The company will make YouTube Originals available to advertisers through sponsorships or Google Preferred lineups.

YouTube TV also will be accessible as a standalone lineup in Google Preferred this upfront season. Google said the change, along with audience guarantees and show-level exclusions, “allows advertisers to zero in on live and on-demand inventory” and lets brands “go beyond demographics to reach audiences based on their interests.”

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Google said it’s also updating how Google Preferred lineups work. Specifically, the company is adding additional metrics to its algorithm P-Score, which measures popularity, viewer passion of specific content and content suitability. P-Score also will track “platform” (for videos frequently watched on larger screens) and “production” (for content that has higher production values like advanced camera work or sound quality).

YouTube also said it’s expanding its slate of livestreamed events following a livestream of music festival Coachella’s first weekend that YouTube said earned more than 82 million live views. The company has now signed a new two-year partnership to livestream Lollapalooza this August as well as produce additional custom content from the festival.