Saturday, January 23, 2010

YouTube Video Rentals Go Live, As Google Negotiates With Major Studios

On Wednesday, Google's YouTube announced it was starting to rent videos. The video rental service, for now limited to five films from the Sundance Film Festival (three world premieres at this year’s festival and two audience favorites from last year’s), went live on Friday.

You’ll also be able to find the video, rentable for $3.99, throughout the next ten days by visiting YouTube Movies or by searching. The available films are:
Children of Invention" explores the American Dream as seen through the eyes of a Chinese American family living in suburban Boston.

In "Homewrecker," a prisoner on work release and a live-wire kook take a day-long ride in a seemingly stolen vehicle that neither of them will soon forget.

In "The Cove" an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers embark on a covert mission to penetrate a remote and hidden cove in Japan, and shine a light on a dark and deadly secret.

When humble Linas, kicked off of his friends couch and spurned by his lover, finds a forgotten van on a llama farm outside Seattle, he begins lurching east with nothing to lose in "Bass Ackwards."

In "One Too Many Mornings," Fisher and Pete are two dudes with dude problems -- one drinks too much and one just got cheated on by his girlfriend -- and few prospects of helping each other out.
How do you rent a video? Click on the thumbnail, after which you will taken to a regular YouTube watch page where you’ll find a YouTube Rentals window over the video player. If you’re already logged in to YouTube, and you already have a Google Checkout account associated with that userid / PW, you'll be prompted to buy the movie. Otherwise, you'll need to login and setup Google Checkout. Once rented, you can watch the video for 48 hours.

Meanwhile, Business Week reported that (though it's really no surprise), YouTube is talking with major studios to move the nascent service past the Sundance-only limitation. It's obvious that Sundance is just a trial, and that this is what Google had in mind all along.

After all, while YouTube is the most popular online video site, the Google division has struggled to figure out how to monetize itself. This move toward video rentals is an obvious one. Success is not a foregone conclusion, however, even for YouTube and Google.

Still confused? Here's a video demo:
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