YouTube Now Renting Premium Movie Titles to Users, Joins the Onslaught of Netflix Rivals

youtube movies drama screenshot

YouTube is ready to go full steam ahead in its mission to bring feature films to users on-demand. It’s been talked about since September 2009, but now it’s reality. According to YouTube Movie’s FAQ, the service will provide 3,000 new movies, for a total of 6,000, from studios like Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Lionsgate Films, Starz, The Weinstein Company, and Magnolia Pictures. The availability of new releases depends on the studios — it’s up to them if they’re up on YouTube Movies the same day and date as their DVDs. Price for new releases will be $3.99 and $2.99 for library items. Users will have 30 days to watch a film they rented, but will only have a 24 hour viewing window once they hit play — all typical industry stuff. And, in case you were wondering, official YouTube enabled media streamers like the Logitech Revue with Google TV can tap into the service.

Interesting fact: users can embed movies into their web pages. If a person who comes across a YouTube Movie hasn’t rented the title from the service already, they’ll be shown a trailer for the embed movie (should help sales and bring better exposure to titles than just a link — it might even make it possible to have a shared movie watching experience for people in separate locations).

Aside: Anyone else think looking at YouTube Movie’s web interface is about appealing as looking for book through a library’s online catalog?

YouTube Movies FAQ (credit)

Q. What are some of the new studios you’re partnering with?
A. NBC Universal, Sony Pictures and Warner Brothers.

Q. How many films have you added and how many total movies are now available on YouTube?
A. We have added a total of approximately 3,000 new titles including catalog and new releases from Sony Pictures, Warner Bros, NBCUniversal, Lionsgate Films and many great independent studios. This brings the total number of movie titles available to rent on YouTube to over 6,000.

Q. Where and when will the additional movie titles begin appearing on YouTube?
A. Movies for rent will be available at and new titles will begin appearing to users today and be added throughout the week.

Q. Where are the new movies located and when will they be available on the site?
A. The new movies are located at and will start appearing at that destination throughout the day.

Q. How many total studios are now represented at and what are they?
A. Studio partners include Universal Pictures, Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, Lionsgate Films, Starz, The Weinstein Company, and Magnolia Pictures, among others.

Q. How much will the movies for rent cost?
A. Movies are set at industry standard pricing (i.e. most new releases start at $3.99 and library start at $2.99).

Q. How long will a consumer have a movie once he or she has purchased it?
A. For most movies, viewers will have 30 days to begin watching their rental. Once they start watching the movie they will typically have 24 hours to finish.

Q. What transaction service are you using?
A. The service accepts all major credit cards.

Q. Will movies for rent be available at the same time as DVD releases?
A. It’s always up to the content owner, however, many movies will be available at the same time as DVD releases.

Q. Is this a subscription service?
A. No, this is a transaction offering.

Q. Are the movies downloaded, or streamed?
A. Streamed.

Q. Is this global?
A. No. This service is available to US YouTube users only.

Q. Do you need a YouTube account to purchase a movie for rent?
A. Yes.

Q. Will YouTube movies for rent be available on Google TV?
A. Yes, these will be available via the browser ( on Google TV.

Q. Can rented movies be shared or embedded into other sites including blogs, Facebook and Twitter?
A. Users can embed movies on other sites. If a user who has not rented the movie views the embedded video, the embedded player will show the movie’s trailer along with an overlay that users can click on to rent the full movie.

Q. Is the content in HD?
A. YouTube supports video in up to 4k resolution, however, it is up to our partners to specify what video quality they provide. Most movies for rent will be available in standard definition.

Q. What is unique about the YouTube Movie experience?
A. Movies on YouTube are about providing a complete movie experience. With YouTube Movie Extras movie fans can get more into their favorite films through cast interviews, clips, alternate movie endings and other highly produced content from talented YouTube partners. YouTube reaches one of the largest and most engaged online audiences in the world, with hundreds of millions of views a day in the US alone.


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Filed in: Content Providers, Industry Buzz, Streaming Media Devices

  • Nitin Narang

    First it was Facebook and now YouTube entering the domain of paid Content aggregators. Success of Connected TV will be built around content rather than apps and with earlier launch of Google TV facing backlash from major studios – content creation, syndication and collaboration with content owners and broadcasters is something Google will build for success of Google TV 2.0