YouTube Introduces Movie Rentals

YouTube is beginning to roll out a new movie rental service, albeit in a fairly small fashion. Currently, YouTube is offering five titles from independent filmmakers. The five titles will be available through the end of this year's Sundance Film Festival.

Although YouTube's new offering doesn't begin to compete with other online rental services such as Netflix which offers thousands of films, YouTube plans to offer more movies at some point. Furthermore, the move represents a significant shift for the online video site which has traditionally thrived by offering free video clips and earning money primarily from advertising revenue. YouTube also currently offers some older, full-length movies for free on its site.

It's been reported that YouTube held discussions with major movie studios such as Lionsgate Entertainment, Sony, and Warner Brothers last summer in hopes of working on a rental service. YouTube has not confirmed the talks with the studios or the test with Google employees which supposedly took place in the fall.

The five independent titles that are available through YouTube include The Cove, Bass Ackwards, One Too Many Mornings, Homewrecker, and Children of Invention. YouTube said it plans to add additional content to the rental service soon including educational, health, and fitness-related videos.

YouTube also plans to begin a program called “Filmmakers Wanted” that will enable other independent producers to make their films available on YouTube. The filmmakers will determine the rental price of the movie and will keep the majority of the revenue collected.