Hoping to get in on the action that has made Netflix such a massive success, YouTube has secured deals with Warner Bros., Sony, Universal, Lionsgate and the Weinstein Co. to offer more films for streaming online the same day they become available on DVD and Blu-ray.
YouTube began renting films last year, but its offerings have largely been older films that Variety refers to as "library fare." The site's video-on-demand service has offered rentals for between $2 and $4 per film, numbers similar to those charged by rival VOD services like iTunes and Best Buy's CinemaNow. Whether YouTube will offer a monthly subscription streaming service in the manner of Netflix and Hulu Plus remains unclear.
Film studios have largely avoided exclusivity deals with digital distributors, believing instead that releasing a film to multiple online rental services simultaneously is more profitable. Adding YouTube, with its 130 million unique visitors per month in the U.S. and 2 billion video views per day worldwide, to their arsenal of rental services seems a wise move as studios look to combat dwindling DVD sales.