YouTube recently began to roll out a series of feature films that viewers can watch for free, supported by ads. While the selection isn’t large, there are some notable ones to catch, like The Terminator, Legally Blonde, and Rocky.
According to AdAge, the video platform began releasing the movies in October with a “Free to watch” category in its movie section, where users have traditionally purchased or rented movies. The films come with commercial interruptions, with pop-up ads that appear at regular intervals.
Rohit Dhawan, YouTube’s director of product management, told AdAge that the company saw an opportunity for consumers and advertisers, and notes that there might be a way for advertisers to “sponsor” films or hold exclusive screenings. At the moment, the selection is limited to 100 films, a selection that Dhawan says will eventually expand.
The free films on the heels of Roku’s own foray into free, ad-supported films on the web
The feature comes not long after Roku announced that its free, ad-supported movie selection, The Roku Channel, would be available on the web (it was previously only available to those with a Roku TV or box), which also includes a number of older films, like The Matrix and 50 First Dates. TechCrunch points out that Walmart has its own selection of free streaming films on Vudu, while service Tubi has its own large selection of free films.
YouTube’s foray into this field makes sense — AdAge notes that more people are accessing the site on smart TVs, and distributing ad-supported free films could be a huge new audience for the site’s extensive ad network.