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YouTube just added 4,000 free TV episodes to help you cut the cord

A render of the YouTube interface on a TV, showing an episode of Hell's Kitchen
(Image credit: YouTube)

Update: YouTube lets you skip to the best parts of videos — and you can try it now

YouTube is giving you yet another excuse to cut the cord by offering 4,000 free TV episodes for U.S. users to watch. The only snag is that you'll have to watch ads in order to access the free content.

As announced on the YouTube Official Blog (opens in new tab), this is an expansion of YouTube's existing 1,500-strong library of free-to-watch movies. YouTube is promising to add 100 new titles each week, with the option to rent or pay for content to eliminate the ads temporarily or permanently. All of this is watchable on the company's regular mobile, browser or smart TV apps.

The free TV shows on YouTube include Hell’s Kitchen (opens in new tab), Andromeda (opens in new tab), Heartland (opens in new tab) and more. YouTube says it also has over 1,500 movies from Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution, Warner Bros., Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate, FilmRise, and others. New titles in March include Gone in Sixty Seconds (opens in new tab), Runaway Bride (opens in new tab) and Legally Blonde (opens in new tab), which are available to stream for free with ads.

Keep in mind that once you get past some of these more well-known shows and movies the selection is not exactly top notch — this is why we keep track of the best free movies on YouTube. A quick tour of other free TV shows on YouTube included several shows we haven't heard of, such as Mutant X, Lovespring International and Doctor Finlay. 

Note that this announcement doesn't have anything to do with YouTube TV, the company's premium subscription service. These new free shows are on the regular YouTube site or app, just sectioned off from the part where you watch your unboxing videos and old Vine compilations.

Free-to-watch, ad-supported TV streaming is already an option on services like Roku and Plex. However, as popular as these services are, they still can't compete with YouTube's huge existing number of users. While the long-term success of Google's free shows and films is going to rely on what exactly it can license, it's in a great position to start competing at least.

YouTube boasts in the blog about how many users are watching YouTube on TV, a sign that users would still prefer to watch YouTube even with other streaming options likely also at their disposal on their TV. YouTube also mentions how it has enhanced navigation and UI for the TV app, which is at least a benefit everyone and not just U.S. users.

For users unable to or uninterested in trying YouTube's new free content, you can take a look at the best free Roku channels and best Roku channels overall here.

Looking for something else to watch? Apple TV Plus' biggest new show is about to debut, so mark the Pachinko release date and time in your digital calendar.

Richard is a Tom's Guide staff writer based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, gaming, audio and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.