updated 06:55 pm EST, Fri December 17, 2010
Google movie streaming to get major titles early
Google's planned major movie service through YouTube may have suddenly firmed up, based on a late slip. The service, once stalled, would go live in early 2011 with a focus on major movies. The company would devote a large amount of marketing attention, TechCrunch heard, and dwell both on the content and integration with Google TV.
The rumor while unconfirmed did corroborate rumors of Google hiring a former Netflix executive, Robert Kyncl, with an aim to negotiating movie licensing deals. By extension, the details would support claims that Google may have been talking directly with Miramax as part of its plans.
The company has also grown more overt about its plans by acquiring Widevine to help establish the copy protection needed to reassure studios.
Google was known to be building up its content strategy for the past year, including struggling music plans, but if accurate would only now be seeing some of those plans materialize in earnest. For YouTube, the approach would monetize a business that has until now relied almost entirely on ads as well as a largely unpopular independent movie rental library. The expansion may be vital to preserving Google TV as it has been shut out of most major sites that offer ad-supported video.
A video service may also play into more direct competition with Apple, both directly in having an iTunes equivalent but also to provide material for future Android tablets that could take advantage of HD movies on their larger screens. Analysts have pointed to content being key to tablet sales by giving a reason to buy an iPad or an Android tablet beyond just web browsing and apps.