When you think of streaming movies legally, you usually assume a subscription fee is involved. However, Google's YouTube has quietly added several films to watch for free, including the first five Rocky movies, The Terminator and Legally Blonde.
"We saw this opportunity based on user demand, beyond just offering paid movies. Can we do ad-supported movies, free to the user?" Rohit Dhawan, YouTube's director of product management, told AdAge. "It also presents a nice opportunity for advertisers."
YouTube did not give the details of the deals with studios and advertisers. Many of them are from the MGM library, which includes the original Terminator, the Rocky movies, Legally Blonde, Steve Martin's Pink Panther 2 and Four Weddings And a Funeral.
Other films available include Kevin James' Zookeeper, the two Agent Cody Banks movies, Juri Dreams of Sushi, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels and Denzel Washington's Out of Time. There is no "Free to Watch" section for TV shows yet.
Dhawan said the number of films will continue to expand.
While ad-free subscription services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video still dominate the streaming market, AdAge notes that the ad-supported market is growing. The field includes Tubi and Walmart's Vudu. Sources told the outlet Amazon is also working on an ad-supported app.
In August, Roku announced it was bringing its own free ad-supported Roku Channel to the web so you can watch it on your computer instead of just on your smart TV with a Roku device. The free films you can check out there are pulled from a wider pool, including Blade Runner, A Few Good Men, The Perfect Storm, Blood Diamond, True Grit, The Firm and Clue the Movie. ABC News programming is also available at the site.
The ad-supported movies also come to YouTube at a time when more users are watching videos on their smart TVs. YouTube recently said about 20 percent of its videos are watched on television sets and it is the fastest-growing medium for the site.
While YouTube is adding more third-party content for you to watch without worrying about breaking copyright laws, the company announced last week it is also working on adding more educational content, reports The Verge. YouTube said it is investing $20 million more into its Learning Fund program, which grants channels with a minimum of 25,000 subscribers additional funding.
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