Although YouTube has offered ad-supported free movies before, this is the first time it has expanded to TV shows. Announced last weekYouTube’s refreshed catalog of free content now includes over 1,500 movies and 100 TV shows, like 10 things i hate about you, The Sandlot, Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Revenge of a Blondetwo seasons of Nightmares in the kitchenand a decent number of more obscure titles such as 1970s Western The Return of a Man Called Horse.
Not all newly added movies are technically new to YouTube, depending on your definition of the term. For example, Revenge of a Blonde was previously free to stream with ads in 2018, although he left the platform later and is only now returning. Still, YouTube has some decent options if you’re looking to save some cash on a night out.
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However, YouTube has also made browsing its free titles much more boring than necessary. The platform won’t just show you all of its free titles and let you browse through them to find your next binge watch. It certainly won’t let you filter them out, so you can’t narrow your search to all of YouTube’s free action movies or free romantic comedies.
Instead, YouTube’s algorithm selects a few hundred ad-supported titles to show you in its “free to watch movies” section, hiding the rest. Mashable only had 360 ad-supported movies available in this category, though YouTube says it offers more than four times that number. Mashable also counted 100 free TV shows.
“YouTube is personalized for users, so instead of seeing the whole library at once in links, users see selections personalized for them,” a YouTube spokesperson told Mashable. “Once users start watching or when new titles appear or come out, the composition of the selection in the shelves will change.”
YouTube noted that viewers can use its search bar to search for titles, as well as browse content in gender-themed sections which contain a mix of free, rental and purchasable content. However, there is no section listing only all free YouTube movies or TV shows, which leaves users no choice but to believe that YouTube knows best what to watch.
“You can see and search all 1,500 free movies and 100+ shows and live titles in the Movies & Shows section, your homepage, and the following watch selection — all of which are personalized,” said the YouTube spokesperson.
It seems like a weird lack of functionality, but again, YouTube’s bread and butter is in user-uploaded content rather than blockbuster movies. It also benefits them if you end up giving up and pay $5.99 to rent no time to die on YouTube instead.
So while YouTube’s ad-supported movie offerings are an option to browse lazily when you have the time, don’t count on them for your quick weekend entertainment.