If you are looking for something to watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon, YouTube is showing some top-tier Hollywood films in their entirety, but you do have to sit through some commercials to watch them for free. Among the free movies, you can watch are the sci-fi classic The Terminator, Rocky, and newer films like Legally Blonde. These free, feature-length movies are offered in the Movies section of YouTube and have been there since October.
YouTube has sold movies in that section of its website for years. This marks the first time that YouTube has offered free streaming films in exchange for users watching ads. A quick search on YouTube shows that the full-length film The Terminator
YouTube says that it started the ad-supported movies due to demand from viewers and that it saw the ad spots as an opportunity for advertisers. Companies are looking for new ways to get their products in front of consumers as fewer and fewer people watch commercials during normal TV thanks to DVR. The ads that YouTube shows in the film come from its normal advertising mix. YouTube's director of product management, Rohit Dhawan, says that eventually there could be a way for advertisers to pay to sponsor movies, but it's unclear exactly how that will work at this time.
Movies have a life cycle today starting in the theater, then moving to on demand and DVD/Blu-ray, then TV; exactly where moving to digital would happen is unknown. Right now YouTube has about 100 movies that can be watched in their entirety with ads, and YouTube promises more films will be added. Ad-supported movies could provide an outlet for advertisers who are concerned that their ads might run inside questionable content on standard YouTube videos. A feature-length film is a known quantity, and if advertisers find it objectionable, they could choose not to advertise on that film just as they would on TV. YouTube's selection of free ad-supported movies can be viewed here. With cord cutting going mainstream, this is another move on YouTube's part that could hasten the demise of big cable and satellite.