Cobra Kai Leaves YouTube Premium, Eyes New Home


Cobra Kai is sweeping the leg of exclusivity to YouTube, now set to seek a new platform.

In a surprising development as news remains dry on the long-awaited third season of Cobra Kai, the series—the undisputed showcase scripted attraction of YouTube’s premium subscription service—is exiting the platform, with production company Sony Pictures Television now fielding offers from prospective new platforms, according to Deadline.

YouTube officially ordered Cobra Kai Season 3 back in April 2019 with full intention to host the new frame. However, over a year later, it has since shifted away from scripted television, a move that left Cobra Kai and Liza on Demand as the only active scripted shows on the roster. Thus, while the offer to premiere the reportedly-completed Season 3 was still on the table, YouTube opted not to order Cobra Kai Season 4. Yes, as surreal as it sounds, YouTube Premium essentially canceled its Cobra Kai crown jewel, resulting in the inevitable divorce between series and platform.

Regardless, the move away from YouTube should be a welcome one for those involved with Cobra Kai. The series, which serves as a serialized sequel—over thirty years in the making—to the classic 1980s franchise of The Karate Kid films, may have initially rode the back of nostalgia, but it ended up achieving widespread acclaim for its surprisingly stirring storytelling, bringing an empathetic portrayal of the original movie’s bully, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), in his tension-filled reunion with movie protagonist Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), each of whom deal with unique family scenarios while taking on apprentices—played by the younger cast members whose characters are also in focus—who battle each other in a renewed rivalry of karate dojos.

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However, on the Google-owned YouTube Premium, Cobra Kai was mostly hidden from mainstream visibility, stuck behind a paywall that few were willing to unblock. Yet, YouTube knew it had an untapped hit on its hands and did its level best to use the show’s buzz to lure subscribers. At one point last year, YouTube even experimented with an ad-based business model by temporarily releasing the two existing seasons outside the paywall in a move to potentially attract more mainstream attention to the series as it built momentum toward Season 3. However, the writing was already on the wall, and it soon became clear that scripted television was an endeavor that yielded YouTube little reward, especially with its platform’s other lavish originals like Impulse and Origin, which failed to find audiences or even the kind of acclaim that Cobra Kai achieved.

Consequently, Cobra Kai will emerge from its split from YouTube as one of the hottest proverbial free agents in the television landscape, especially with the completed Season 3 ready to be unleashed immediately upon a fandom—starving for new content amidst a pandemic—that’s been waiting well over a year since Season 2 dropped back on April 24, 2019. While the news of a new platform being secured seems imminent, one obstacle that reportedly remains in the negotiations is YouTube’s unwillingness to release the series until said new home is secured.  

Cobra Kai Season 3 is, nevertheless, coming one way or another… and possibly sooner than one might think. Moreover, the show’s new platform—Netflix, Hulu or whatever that ends of being—will reportedly have exclusive rights to said third season, along with non-exclusive access to the two existing seasons for catch-up purposes; an aspect that was another major focus of the YouTube exit negotiations. Thus, the series will be an amazing acquisition, likely to be the center of a major media campaign that’s set to prove it’s the best around.

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