YouTube online movie rental launch

11/05/2011

LoveFilm, iTunes and Amazon are bracing themselves for a major launch from Google-owned YouTube into the online movie business. A global deal with key Hollywood studios will give YouTube access to 3,000 online movie titles to rent in its movie store. This is a major step in the battle for long-form content and the ownership of the consumer video rental sector. Big opportunities for brands and advertisers getting pre-roll video ad units into market, as well as for content owners who want to licence video alongside DVD releases…

11/05/2011

YouTube is doubling the size of its online video store in an expansion that will make more movies available for Internet streaming at the same time they're released on DVD.

Under new licensing deals reached with several major studios, YouTube says it will be adding about 3,000 titles to its rental library, which is only available in the US.

That will leave YouTube with about 6,000 rental selections 16 months after it opened the store. Until now, few of the movies in YouTube's rental store were available at the same time as the DVD releases, putting it at a competitive disadvantage.

The service will put YouTube in direct competition with Netflix, Amazon and Apple, which all focus on renting long-form movies and TV shows.

Google is hoping the addition of full-length movie rentals to complement YouTube's core strengths and help keep users on the site for longer periods of time, in turn ramping up the ad revenue.

Titles available on YouTube include "Caddyshack," "Goodfellas," "Scarface," "Taxi Driver," "Inception," "The King's Speech," "Little Fockers," "The Green Hornet" and "Despicable Me," all at what Google describes as "industry standard pricing."

Most of YouTube's movies rent for $3 or $4 per viewing, comparable with competing services. For most titles, renters will have up to 30 days to begin watching a video, but must complete the viewing within 24 hours after starting.

Viacom-owned Paramount Pictures so far hasn't agreed to rent its movies through YouTube's store. Other holdouts include News Corp.'s 20th Century Fox and Walt Disney Studios, which rents its movies through Apple's iTunes store. Apple CEO Steve Jobs is Walt Disney Co.'s largest shareholder and a member of its board.

The studios that have agreed to rent their latest releases through YouTube include NBC Universal, Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers.

In a company blog post, Salar Kamangar, YouTube chief, wrote: "You're finding more and more of the content you love on YouTube, which is now available on 350 million devices. We know this because you're watching videos to the tune of 2 billion views a day. But you're spending just 15 minutes a day on YouTube, and spending five hours a day watching TV. As the lines between online and offline continue to blur, we think that's going to change."

Read the full blog post here.

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