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YouTube now offers free, ad-supported streaming Hollywood movies

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YouTube has recently rolled out free-to-watch ad-supported Hollywood feature films.
YouTube has recently rolled out free-to-watch ad-supported Hollywood feature films.

Image: Aytac Unal/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

YouTube has just rolled out dozens of free-to-watch full-length feature films on its platform. The only catch is that the content is ad-supported.

First noticed by , YouTube began launching ad-supported Hollywood films under a section on its Movies & Shows vertical. Films like Legally Blonde, The Terminator, Rocky, Hackers, and All Dogs Go to Heaven are listed on the page with a “Free with Ads” tag displayed under the title. Users can watch these films at no cost with commercial interruptions and pop-up banner ads like the ones displayed on other YouTube videos.

(The ads appear to go away for YouTube Premium subscribers, based on our testing so far.)

A look at the new 'free to watch' section of YouTube Movies & Shows.

A look at the new ‘free to watch’ section of YouTube Movies & Shows.

Previously, the Movies & Shows page only listed films and TV programs that you could purchase to watch. The free movie roll out kicked off in October and new content is still being added.

YouTube has been experimenting with various models for the platform, such as its commercial-free subscription service YouTube Premium. However, this development marks the first time the platform offered up ad-supported full-length features in an official capacity. 

While a new feature at YouTube, services like Sony Crackle, Tubi, and Vudu have offered ad-supported on-demand films and TV shows. Earlier in 2018, Roku made its free on-demand movie and TV show platform available for users regardless of whether they owned a Roku or not.

YouTube isn’t breaking new ground here, but its experimentation with free ad-supported movies and shows is certainly noteworthy. As the website in the world, YouTube is the leader in online video content. The site’s move towards ad-supported movies could have ramifications, not only for the tech industry, but for Hollywood as well.

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