YouTube Premium has moved a number of its original scripted series from behind its paywall as a result of coronavirus, it was announced today.
As part of their #StayAtHome initiative, the streaming service has made the full series runs of Step Up television adaptation Step Up: High Water, buddy comedy Overthinking with Kat & June, sci-fi drama Impulse, action comedy Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television, Eva Gutkowski’s Me and My Grandma, and dating comedy Sideswiped, among others, available for a limited time.
The move is the latest bid by a content provider to take advantage of a population yearning for entertainment while trapped in COVID-19-fueled quarantine. HBO and Sundance Now have moved a number of shows from behind their respective paywalls, while Starz has been stockpiling content from parent company Lions Gate and Showtime and CBS All Access have offered extended free trials for all your bingeing pleasure.
It comes after YouTube has been rebranding itself over the past year or so. The streamer is one of a number of outlets that’ve recently backed away from continuing to produce scripted content on any kind of scale, as they were never able to gain the type of critical and commercial traction necessary to compete with the Netflixes and Hulus of the world. YouTube has since moved from a subscription service to ad-supported and rebranded toward unscripted content with emphasis on music, learning, and personality. Additionally, they’re currently maintaining a small amount of scripted shows (e.g. Karate Kid continuation Cobra Kai, Liza Koshy comedy Liza on Demand) with no developmental pipeline to speak of.
However, just because YouTube isn’t trying to keep up with the Joneses doesn’t mean their library content has no value. Step Up: High Water was lauded for its choreography and direction; Overthinking with Kat & June is a personal favorite that was a spiritual successor to the likes of Broad City and Scrubs; Impulse received positive notices for its treatment of trauma; and Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television developed a notable cult audience over the course of its two seasons. If you’ve already caught up on your DVR during quarantine and still find your television appetite insatiable, tearing into the library of a streamer that didn’t attract much attention during its foray into scripted could be the way to go.