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Stream Cobra Kai's first season for free before it regains its wits, kicks you through paywall

Screenshot: Cobra Kai

Cobra Kai came out swinging in its first season, making it the first successful original series from YouTube’s own subscription streamer, YouTube Red. The Karate Kid sequel series found renewed resonance in the rivalry between the film’s original two stars, Ralph Macchio’s Daniel and William Zabka’s Johnny, and adopted a new format we characterized as a “subverted fairy tale.” 

While Cobra Kai initially guarded itself behind a paywall, YouTube has now made it free to watch for white belts and black belts alike. Even better? The show’s second season—which, unfortunately, we were less keen on—will begin dropping free episodes on a weekly basis beginning on September 11. Per AdWeek, Cobra Kai’s first season will only remain free until September 12.

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AdWeek goes on to note that, after September 24, all YouTube original series and specials will be available to watch for free with ads for a certain window of time. If you’d rather not adhere to what seem like fairly haphazard time tables, well, you can sign up for its premium service.

Per Variety, the pivot away from YouTube Red comes with YouTube’s desire to “refocus its original content efforts on ad-supported viewing.” That makes sense, what with its streamer hardly standing a chance in an oversaturated streaming market that’s about to see the release of Disney+ and HBO Max. YouTube Red, after all, is now called YouTube Premium, which functions primarily as an ad-free portal with access to the YouTube Music streaming service and other perks, namely the ability to watch its original content whenever the hell you want.

Regardless, Cobra Kai has been renewed for a third season, though a premiere date remains forthcoming.

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About the author

Randall Colburn

Randall Colburn is The A.V. Club's Internet Culture Editor. He lives in Chicago, occasionally writes plays, and was a talking head in Best Worst Movie, the documentary about Troll 2.