YouTube on Wednesday began streaming some 4,000 television episodes from shows like "Hell's Kitchen" and "Heartland" to US viewers as the site tries to capture viewers in a fiercely competitive market.

The Google-owned video platform said that popular television shows along with films from major studios will be available, with ads, on YouTube using smart televisions, mobile devices or web browsers.

YouTube was a pioneer in the trend to accessing video on-demand using the internet, starting with clips uploaded and shared by users.

YouTube has begun streaming free TV shows in the United States -- but with ads YouTube has begun streaming free TV shows in the United States -- but with ads Photo: AFP

It faces an array of competitors, ranging from streaming television service Netflix based on subscriptions to ad-supported offerings from Peacock, Roku, Tubi and other rivals.

Films and shows will be added weekly, with the line-up of movies to include "Gone in Sixty Seconds" and "Runaway Bride," according to the YouTube team.

YouTube cited Nielsen findings that more than 135 million people in the United States watched YouTube videos using televisions connected to the internet in December of last year.

"YouTube is at the forefront of the consumer shift to (connected TV) viewership as the top ad-supported streaming platform," the video-sharing platform said in a post.