When YouTube Red rebranded as YouTube Originals, it did so on the back of a new flagship series, Cobra Kai. Based on The Karate Kid film franchise from the 1980s, the series was a clever revival. Set 34 years after the original film, actors Ralph Macchio and Billy Zabka returned as Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence, now adults training the next generation of teens to fight. But now the show is moving to Netflix from its initial home on YouTube. So, when will Cobra Kai be on Netflix? The first two seasons are arriving in time for Labor Day weekend, but Season 3 will not be here until next year.
Shows like House of Cards and The Mandalorian give a false sense that streaming services have to have a hit available right when they launch in order to be successful. But that's not true for most companies, and it wasn't true for YouTube Red when it moved from being a music-focused service to offering YouTube Original programming. But once it debuted Cobra Kai, it seemed like YouTube had finally found its golden ticket.
By the time Cobra Kai Season 2 rolled around, YouTube changed course and allowed fans of the YouTube Original to watch it for free, rather than pay for a YouTube Premium subscription. The result was record-setting premiere viewership numbers for Season 2. But the shift also reoriented YouTube toward unscripted series. So, even though YouTube ordered a third season of Cobra Kai (likely based on how many people watched Season 2), it wasn't that big a surprise when the show's production studio, Sony TV, started shopping for a new home for the series.
According to Deadline, a lot of services were interested in picking up rights to Cobra Kai, but in the end, Netflix came out on top. The streamer not only got exclusive rights to air Cobra Kai Season 3, but it also will be able to offer Season 1 and 2 of the show starting on Friday, Aug. 28, 2020. (Currently, the Netflix deal is only for Cobra Kai, but Deadline reported Sony TV may be looking into expanding the Karate Kid spinoff's franchise further with the streamer.)
For those looking forward to new episodes, the wait will be a little longer. Though Season 3 finished filming before the deal went through, Netflix will not be releasing it until 2021.
Editor's Note: This post has been updated to reflect when Cobra Kai Seasons 1, 2, and 3 will be on Netflix.
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