YouTube to launch movie rentals

Google Inc.-owned YouTube is planning to launch a movie-on-demand service in the United States, which would allow Internet users to stream films through the YouTube video service, The Wrap reported exclusively last night.

YouTube is expected to make an announcement on the service soon, and it could begin as early as “this week or next,” the report stated. The online video giant has been working to make deals with all of Hollywood’s major studios before making the announcement.

Currently, Netflix leads the video streaming market with 23.6 million U.S. subscribers – as many as Comcast, the country’s largest cable operator. iTunes is another major player, offering new releases to both download and rent online, according to MediaGuardian.

YouTube vice president of TV and film entertainment Robert Kyncl (and former Netflix boss) first hinted about the service at a conference earlier this month, saying “Imagine if you had a video store on YouTube, where you could rent or buy the movie without being sent elsewhere,” MediaGuardian quoted. “Obviously, there are things coming, but we can’t talk about them yet.”

The launch will provide answers to business model questions surrounding the online and streaming video business. Will consumers want to buy media on demand one by one, or will a subscription model like Netflix’s ultimately have greater mass appeal?

Answers to that, and other questions, will play out over time, but one thing is known: this is good news for Hollywood studios, which want to be paid for their work, while also reaching more consumers in the digital space.

How much YouTube will charge and how movies will be released via the service is still unknown.

Image: amyboemig’s flickr photostream

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This entry was posted in iTunes, Netflix, Online video, YouTube. Bookmark the permalink.

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