YouTube is the latest company to offer free TV shows with ads. The video giant says you can now stream nearly 4,000 TV episodes for free, as long as you’re also willing to watch ads during the show. Available shows include Hell’s Kitchen, Andromeda and Heartland, and you can watch them in the US on the web, mobile devices and “most connected TVs through the YouTube TV app,” YouTube says in a blog post.
With the new free TV shows, YouTube is up against some major competitors. One is over-the-air television – by offering free on-demand TV, YouTube is probably hoping you’ll see what’s available on its platform instead of browsing channels to see what else there is to see. .
There are already many options to stream ad-supported TV for free
And there are already plenty of options for streaming ad-supported TV for free, including Tubi, Xumo, Plex, Roku, and offers from Vizio and Samsung — just to name a few — so YouTube is late in the game. That said, YouTube is also already the place where many people spend a lot of time watching videos, so it’s not hard to imagine people watching TV shows that they can stream for free while scrolling through other YouTube content.
The free shows may also entice people to switch from Roku, a company YouTube owner Google has had some very public disputes with. However, Roku doesn’t sit still; according to a November report, it plans to develop more than 50 original shows that can appear on the free and ad-supported Roku channel. Using potential users based on hardware ownership, Roku, which says 155 million people live in households with Roku devices, is much smaller than YouTube. Google recently said that there are more than 3 billion Android devices in the wild, and that’s just some of the potential devices that can easily access YouTube.
YouTube’s free TV shows join the platform’s ad-free range of free movies, which currently includes Gone in Sixty Seconds and Legally Blonde. The company plans to add up to 100 shows and movies every week.