Google Expands YouTube Rental Service with 3,000 New Titles
Google kicked off 2010 by adding movie rentals to its YouTube service. Those early Sundance offerings have gradually been supplemented with a variety of independent, Bollywood, and anime rentals, but today Google kicked things up a notch with the announcement that YouTube would be adding 3,000 rental titles from major Hollywood heavyweights Warner Brothers, Sony, and Universal. The titles are expected to include a mix of recent releases and older catalog titles and will be added over the next several weeks.
I have to admit that I find it interesting that much of coverage I’ve seen elsewhere focuses on how this new move will allow YouTube to put pressure on Netflix. Similar rhetoric was deployed when YouTube first started offering rentals, again when the service came out of beta, and more recently when rumors started circulating that Google was finally making headway in its negotiations with some Hollywood studios. Unless the studios suddenly decide that digital rentals are the only way to distribute movies online, Google seems to be positioning YouTube more to compete with Apple and Vudu. With rental prices of $3.99 and up it would only take a few rentals a month for a consumer to find a better deal with Netflix. Obviously there may be a tradeoff in the selection of newer, AAA titles available, but these services still seem to be geared toward different markets.
YouTube is adding films from Sony Corp. (6758), Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros., Comcast Corp.’s Universal Pictures and Lionsgate, according to a statement today. The additions will push YouTube’s total movie rentals available to more than 6,000. Most of the newer titles will cost $3.99 and up to rent.