YouTube is updating its algorithm to favor content viewed on TV screens, adding Nielsen tools for advertisers and making YouTube Originals free with ads, the company announced at its Newfront event on Thursday.

All Eyes On TV

YouTube said that over 250 million hours of its videos are viewed on television screens every day. To keep this trend going, YouTube will update its proprietary algorithm (P-score) to prioritize higher production value content and videos that are frequently watched on the TV screen. Videos will be selected from the top five percent of popular channels on YouTube based on user engagement and a “higher bar for brand suitability.”

YouTube TV, the live TV subscription service launched two years ago, is now available across the US and will be offered as a standalone lineup on Google Preferred this Upfront season. YouTube TV already features over 70 broadcast and cable partners, the company said.

“As I meet with many of you, I hear two questions loud and clear,” said Allan Thygesen, president of Google Americas during the presentation. “You want us to prove first, YouTube really can drive reach as fast as TV. And second, that YouTube drives results.”

Nielsen Catalina Solutions will be available for Google Preferred campaigns before the end of the year, measuring lift in offline sales for US consumer packaged goods (CPG) brands. In addition, the tool will provide “deeper” performance insights across audiences, creative and other criteria.

A recent study by Google and MediaScience found that YouTube’s Google Preferred ads on TV screens drove an average lift of 112 percent in Ad Recall and 53 percent Purchase Intent.

On average, over 50% of the target audience reached by YouTube was incremental to TV, according to Nielsen. Television required on average five-times the frequency of YouTube to hit reach goals.

Ad-Supported Originals

YouTube announced that all of its forthcoming original series and specials will become available worldwide as a free, ad-supported service. By breaking the paywall, YouTube gives advertisers more opportunities to work with Hollywood talent and YouTube content creators.

Last year’s Originals slate earned over 2.5 billion views across 50 shows, YouTube told the audience. Cobra Kai received 11 award nominations including an Emmy and the show’s season two premiere reached 20 million views in six days.

Google may be the world’s largest seller of advertising, but it’s not invincible. Ad sales grew at the slowest pace since 2015, according to Alphabet Inc.’s Q1 2019 earnings report. The company did not offer investors any explanation for the slowdown, leaving investors baffled and shares dropping.