As expected, Google has announced that YouTube is now offering some 3,000 full-length feature films from major Hollywood studios available to rent. This brings the total number of movie titles available to rent on YouTube to over 6,000. The service, available at youtube.com/movies is still exclusive to the US. Most new releases start at $4 and other movies go for $3. That is merely the "industry standard pricing" (read: what Hollywood told Google to charge), so you will see prices that are both higher and lower.
For most movies, viewers will have 30 days to begin watching their rental, and once they start, they will have 24 hours to finish. Google says the new titles will begin appearing over the coming weeks. Movies can be streamed (not downloaded) with your YouTube account (required) on any computer.
The new movie pages feature YouTube Movie Extras, which are free behind-the-scenes videos, cast interviews, parodies, clips, and remixes from YouTube's own community of content creators. Movie pages also showcase reviews from Rotten Tomatoes, so you can see feedback from critics. Over time, Google will be adding additional videos and features to YouTube Movie Extras.
Major studios partnering with YouTube include Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers, and Universal. Google wanted to bring all the major Hollywood studios on board before announcing the service, but it failed to do so. Paramount, Fox, and Disney are noticeably absent. On the other hand, Lionsgate Films, Starz, The Weinstein Company, and Magnolia Pictures are on board.
The major studios have never liked YouTube, but are starting to see it as a potentially lucrative platform, especially since movies can be sold à la carte. YouTube has some 130 million monthly users and this deal means they can all pay to watch movies on the site as they come out on DVD. The movies will thus be available before they arrive on subscription streaming services such as Netflix.