YouTube Opens Rental Store

The streaming rental industry is getting ever more crowded, and now it's going to have to make room for at least one more. YouTube has seemingly launched an streaming rental service, offering movies and television shows for anywhere from 99 cents to $3.99. Content would be viewable in a 48-hour window following purchase.

Artwork: Chip Taylor

While most of the content available appears to be from independent, small studio and Bollywood sources, I spotted several Lionsgate movies in the list. Recent hit Precious and Brothers are currently being featured, and the service had a few catalog titles, including the Saw movies and 3:10 to Yuma.

Television show content does not appear to come from any major American network. YouTube has not officially announced this service as of yet, and it may just be that the weak offering here could be a result of this merely not being ready for prime time.

YouTube had previously experimented at the beginning of the year with $5 rentals of Sundance titles. The offering did not do so well, likely making the site much more than $10,000 or so in rental fees.

As I mentioned earlier, any offering from YouTube runs into the reality of a small yet increasingly crowded market. If the service wants to be successful, it's going to have to ramp up its offerings quickly, as Netflix is currently king in this space. That said, the extreme popularity of YouTube itself works in the service's favor.

We'll have to watch this in the coming months to see the site's next moves, and if it begins to strike hardware deals to bring the service off the computer screen and into the living room. After all, who wants to sit in front of a computer screen for two hours to watch a movie?

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