YouTube Now Streaming “Free to Watch” Movies with Ads

After years of people illegally uploading full length movies and shows to the platform, YouTube is taking a crack at hosting copyrighted content on its own which users can watch entirely for free.

This story was reported by The Verge in large part due to the fact that, in typical YouTube fashion, this feature was never actually announced by the company in a meaningful way. Since at least October, YouTube has been adding movies to their “Movies & Shows” tab that do not cost anything for people to watch, each one supported by a series of ads that play during the films.

In an interview with AdAge about the new initiative, YouTube’s director of product management, Rohit Dhawan, claims that the company saw an opportunity in offering films for free, adding that the current 100 movie selection will likely expand sometime in the future.

This service was no doubt a response to the incredibly popularity of streaming platforms like Netflix as well as the piracy issue on YouTube and the web at large. Additionally, The Roku Channel and several other premium streaming services recently began offering their own content for free in small quantities, something that more than likely helped push YouTube and Google forward in their decision.

At present, there are only 100 movies people can watch for free as mentioned previously. The selection comprises several obscure gems like The Last Tycoon and A Company Man to classics like The Terminator and Rocky plus several of its sequels. What else might be added to its library has not been confirmed, but building a good mix between the well known and unknown would make good business sense.

While it’s hard to argue with the usefulness of this kind of feature, there’s a distinct possibility it could come back to bite YouTube given the high usage of ad blocking programs used by viewers. Whether this will spell the end for the service before it even has a chance to begin or merely future adjustments to compensate for it remains to be seen.