You might consider opening the YouTube app the next time you’re mindlessly scanning streaming apps for the next TV show to watch. At least, so long as you can stomach ads.
Google’s popular video platform announced today that users can now stream nearly 4,000 episodes of various TV shows for free with ads. You can browse the full list in the “Free to watch shows” section of the “Movies and shows” category on YouTube. Some of the more popular titles of the 100 or so shows available include Hell’s Kitchen, Andromeda, Heartland, Ascension, and Kitchen Nightmares. Older releases include Unsolved Mysteries, 21 Jump Street, The Carol Burnett Show, The Lone Ranger, Hopalong Cassidy, and The Dick Van Dyke Show.
The shows join some 1,500 ad-supported movies from companies like Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, FilmRise, and others. New additions to the platform include Gone in Sixty Seconds, Runaway Bridge, and Legally Blonde.
Google is attempting to bolster its YouTube offerings to compete with other streaming apps after removing the Google Play Movies and TV apps from most TV platforms. The company’s attempt to take on Netflix with original TV shows and movies via YouTube Originals faltered. Although it released some hits like Cobra Kai, YouTube could never keep pace with its competitors and eventually made its originals free to watch before scaling them down altogether.
Now YouTube is shifting strategies and going after the growing segment of ad-supported offerings referred to as FAST, or free ad-supported streaming TV services. So far, Tubi, Xumo, Plex, Roku, and even a few TV makers give users access to free content. YouTube is behind the times but can take advantage of having 2 billion active users who are already browsing the app or webpage.
To that point, the company says it will introduce new navigation and immersive banner art to help users switch between watching rented or purchased content and free shows and movies with ads. Interestingly, commercial breaks will vary by user and “the context in which they’re watching shows,” TechCrunch reports.
These first 100 TV shows and 1,500 movies are only the starting blocks for YouTube, which plans to add up to 100 shows and movies each week.
Editor’s Note: Release dates within this article are based in the U.S., but will be updated with local Australian dates as soon as we know more.