YouTube Adds Tons of Catalog TV Episodes to Stream Free with Ads

YouTube adds thousands of free episodes from older shows, as it keeps vying for you to watch YouTube longer on connected televisions.

Joan E. Solsman Former Senior Reporter
Joan E. Solsman was CNET's senior media reporter, covering the intersection of entertainment and technology. She's reported from locations spanning from Disneyland to Serbian refugee camps, and she previously wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. She bikes to get almost everywhere and has been doored only once.
Expertise Streaming video, film, television and music; virtual, augmented and mixed reality; deep fakes and synthetic media; content moderation and misinformation online Credentials
  • Three Folio Eddie award wins: 2018 science & technology writing (Cartoon bunnies are hacking your brain), 2021 analysis (Deepfakes' election threat isn't what you'd think) and 2022 culture article (Apple's CODA Takes You Into an Inner World of Sign)
Joan E. Solsman
2 min read
YouTube's logo on a phone
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YouTube is adding thousands of episodes of TV shows available stream free with advertising, as it continues to court you to spend more time glued to YouTube on connected televisions. 

The shows are licensed "catalog" programming that are usually available to stream free with advertising on a bunch of other services too, the kinds of series most people would associate with traditional networks. A sample of titles includes Hell's Kitchen, Scream Queens and Unsolved Mysteries. 

YouTube has streamed licensed movies free with ads since 2018, but adding TV episodes too solidifies its attempt to leverage licensed catalogs of traditional programming to get you to spend more time watching YouTube on a connected TV device, like a Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV.  YouTube routinely pitches its growth in connected TVs to advertisers, hoping to swipe ad dollars that might normally go to regular networks as more people turn to streaming as they main way to watch video. 

You can find the free shows on YouTube on pretty much any kind of device by going to its Movies & Shows section. But regardless of the ubiquitous availability, this kind of lean-back, longer-length programming is primarily aimed encouraging people to watch on streaming TVs. 

YouTube said Wednesday that it has added 4,000 episodes. It began adding the shows over the past few weeks, and it plans to add as many as 100 new titles each week. They'll join its collection of 1,500 movies from Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Lionsgate, FilmRise and other studios.