YouTube In Discussions With Studios To Stream Films

According to The Wall Street Journal, Google and YouTube are looking to add widely sought-after films from major studios to its service. Unlike other content on YouTube, however, most of these videos will cost money and will only be available to rent.

If Google and major movie studios can reach an agreement, both sides would stand to benefit. Google would have the opportunity to test whether it can persuade millions of its users to pay for premium content on YouTube, while Hollywood studios may be able to offset dwindling DVD sales with online revenue. Certainly YouTube’s broad audience—it had nearly 428 million global visitors in June according to comScore—could provide the studios with a way to reach a much broader audience.

Reportedly, YouTube is talking to Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., Sony Corp., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc., and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. about charging for new titles on the existing YouTube site. In some cases, it’s even possible these titles could be available on the site the same day they come out on DVD.

If YouTube and Hollywood movie studios are able to reach an agreement,
new movies such as Hangover could be available for streaming.

While details will likely vary from studio to studio, the agreements would likely allow customers to stream movies on a rental basis for a fee. In some cases, however, it’s possible the movies could be available for free with advertising. YouTube is trying to encourage studios to allow the movies to be streamed on mobile devices as well, but some of the studios are resisting even though other online rental services such as iTunes currently offer similar functionality.

Negotiations are still underway, so there is no guarantee any of this will come to fruition. In addition, many details are still undecided, including whether users will be able to download movies. People familiar with the situation said new movie rentals are likely to cost about $4, which is the same price Apple’s iTunes Store charges for new movie rentals.

It’s also been reported that 10,000 Google employees were suppose to start testing the service for a period of three months beginning in September. As studio negotiations have drug on, the trial has been pushed back.

YouTube has not confirmed any of the rumors, but in a statement, a YouTube spokesman said the company is always working to expand on "its great relationships with movie studios and on the selection and types of videos we offer our community."