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Google has been working hard to expand YouTube's content beyond user-submitted videos and turn the site into a revenue-generating venture. Over the years the company has signed a few deals that have helped it avoid further lawsuits and brought some professionally produced (yet not quite popular) content to the table. But Google's plans are apparently far more ambitious, and after launching its somewhat limited movie rental service earlier this year, negotiations are underway with "leading" Hollywood studios for a wide selection of their latest and catalog movie offerings.
According to the Financial Times, the search giant has been in talks about the service for months, but is intensifying its efforts in light of expected announcements from Apple this week regarding Apple TV, as well as the continued growth of Netflix and Hulu. The movies would be available on a pay-per-view basis via streaming, rather than as downloads, and would cost about $5 for newer releases. They would also be available as soon as they are released on DVD, iTunes, or Amazon.com, and there's even talk about gradually rolling out such a service to other countries besides the U.S.
Looking at the bigger picture we're likely to see the service become part of Google TV, the company's foray into the living room with its own platform to consolidate TV, streaming media, and search all into one box.