After years of rumors, YouTube is finally launching a movie-on-demand service over at youtube.com/store. Google has charged users for movie rentals for over a year now, but the search giant is finally moving to stream mainstream Hollywood movies from the world's largest video sharing site.
"We've steadily been adding more and more titles since launching movies for rent on YouTube over a year ago, and now have thousands of titles available," a YouTube spokesperson said in a statement. "Outside of that, we don't comment on rumor or speculation."
The service has yet to be announced officially by YouTube or Google, but it appears that the store is already starting to show movies. Major studios partnering with YouTube reportedly include Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers, and Universal. All three have licensed their movies for the new service, as have numerous independent studios, including Lionsgate and Kino Lorber, according to movie executives with knowledge of the deals in place, cited by TheWrap.
Google wanted to bring all the major Hollywood studios on board before announcing the service, but it failed to do so. Paramount and Fox have declined to join. Disney's status is still unclear.
The major studios have never liked YouTube, but are starting to see it as a potentially lucrative platform, especially since it isn't a subscription model. 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 or on Apple's iTunes. The movies will thus also be available before they arrive on subscription streaming services such as Netflix.