YouTube, owned by Google, is entering
the movie rental business. It will charge $3.99 (using Google Checkout,
the parent company's on-line payment system). At the outset, YouTube is
only offering five films from the Sundance Film Festival, and they can
only be viewed from Friday to the end of the festival on Sunday. Is
this a big deal, or what?
- A BIG DEAL. Watch Out Netflix, iTunes and Amazon, says Computer World's Seth Weintraub.
Like most Google projects, it starts innocent enough...but that's just
the beginning... It wouldn't be hard to see Google offering movies at
much lower prices than Apple, Amazon or Netflix with smaller margins.
And really, with what YouTube announced today, even distributors should
be worried. Why sell through a dedicated distributor when there is an
audience of 100 million video watchers at your fingertips?
- Are Bigger Movie Studios Next? Youtube has already approached major Hollywood studios such as Lionsgate, Sony and Warner Bros, notes The New York Times. The BBC
quotes an industry analyst saying this "certainly opens the door" for
bigger studios to sign on. According to reports, content providers will
be able to set rental prices with YouTube then taking a cut. Similar
deals have been struck with iTunes and Netflix.
- Good for Indie Filmmakers, says Sara Pollack,
a YouTube product manager interviewed by USA Today: "The program is a
response to the problems facing independent filmmakers. Too many movies
are getting produced, with few places to exhibit them. For instance,
she says of the 9,000 films shown at Sundance last year, only 53 found
some form of distribution."
- Lots of Unanswered Questions notes Rachel King
at ZDNet: "It’s questionable how good the quality will be... and it is
uncertain what kind of subscription plans they’ll have. And as someone
outside the United States right now, will this rental service be
available to users worldwide, or just in the U.S. and Canada, like