YouTube uses ‘Cobra Kai’ to push revamped AVOD strategy

Cobra Kai

YouTube’s refocus on AVOD is taking shape with the Google-owned company unveiling plans to make all its original series and specials, including hit show Cobra Kai, available in front of its Premium paywall.

The first season of the Karate Kid-inspired show is now accessible via YouTube’s AVOD service until September 12, with episodes of the second season set to be released weekly from September 11.

Previously, only the first two episodes of season one and the first episode of season two were available via YouTube’s ad-supported service. A third season is in the works.

The company also said it will launch the second season of comedy Liza on Demand on September 25, and the second season of scripted series Impulse on October 16.

Both shows’ first seasons will also be available for free via the company’s ad-supported service, with season two episodes rolled out weekly on AVOD, as part of the revamped strategy. All its originals released after September 24 will be available to watch for free for different periods of time depending on the show.

Those paying for SVOD service YouTube Premium will continue to be able to watch all episodes of its original shows without ads.

The details come nine months since YouTube revealed it was planning to move its original content ahead of its paywall. That followed news that the company had cancelled plans to build a slate of high-end drama and comedies, with numerous shows since being cancelled including sci-fi drama Origin and comedy Overthinking with Kat & June, leaving only a smattering of original scripted projects left.

YouTube first launched its subscription service in 2015 with the originals-led YouTube Red, but rebranded the offering as YouTube Premium in May 2018, expanding it into 29 countries with 50 scripted and unscripted originals.

The streamer said it is also preparing to launch a Latin America-focused slate and revealed it had picked up Johnny Cash doc The Gift, produced by Imperative Entertainment and about the singer’s life and his famed Folsom Prison album.

It will launch October 8, joining other unscripted series such as Virtual History and The Edge Of Science, which were unveiled last week as part of the streamer’s push for more educational programming.

“We see a tremendous opportunity to develop more region-specific content, particularly in Europe, Asia and Latin America, and will continue to partner with the biggest stars and creators in the world to share their stories and voices,” said Robert Kyncl, YouTube’s chief business officer.