YouTube has announced it will start streaming free TV shows with adverts, with hundreds of programmes set to become available.
The platform is the second most visited site on the web, after that of its parent company Google, and the move will seriously challenge competitors who offer free streaming entertainment – as well as broadcast television.
At launch the company said the service will include a handful of television shows, including Hell’s Kitchen starring celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
The on-demand service will initially only be available in the US, but it will have a major advantage over linear programming in allowing consumers the ability to choose what they want to watch.
It comes as YouTube has also made more than 1,500 movies available for free viewing – with advertisements – including Legally Blonde and Gone In Sixty Seconds.
YouTube cited Nielsen ratings that it reached more than 135 million people on smart televisions in the US during 2021.
One of the most disruptive aspects of technology giants such as Google and Facebook has been the amount of advertising spend they’ve captured from legacy print and broadcast media.
YouTube reported bringing in almost $20bn (£15bn) in advertising revenues in 2020 on a global basis, equivalent to roughly 14% of the global spend on television advertising according to Statista.
The company’s highest paid content creators – whose videos these advertisements are placed alongside – are estimated to make several millions each.
Other stars and celebrities such as Logan Paul primarily use their popular channels to advertise other ventures, such as in Mr Paul’s case his boxing career.