updated 10:55 pm EDT, Mon April 25, 2011
YouTube may intro major movie service
YouTube's largely public plans for a major studio movie service could be realized as soon as this week or next, studio executives purportedly said Monday. The service would initially work through a video-on-demand rental system, presumably streaming, rather than permanent sales. Some studios like Lionsgate, Sony, Warner, and Universal would be onboard, The Wrap heard, but Google has allegedly had trouble getting support and would have to forsake movies from Fox and Paramount for the initial unveiling.
What titles would be on the store would be available the same day as they are on iTunes and other by-title rental stores. Pricing wasn't given out, but it would most likely be competitive given pressure from Amazon, Apple, and other rival stores.
As with music, Google was said by studio leaders to be seen as a savior from dominance by a major competitor but was still facing a backlash from content providers. Where record labels were hoping mostly to challenge Apple, movie houses were expected to challenge Netflix. The flat-rate subscription service has 61 percent of US digital video and rivaled Comcast in its subscription base.
Subscription video services were being overdone, studios were quoted as saying. By moving to a per-title strategy, YouTube would both enliven the category and potentially encourage the full movie purchases studios have found increasingly elusive. Netflix has often run into interference from studios and in-between providers that don't like its cheap, flat-rate streaming.
Google didn't comment apart from its past public clues. The company is known to see a YouTube with paid major movies not just as a way to move beyond ad-supported clips but to provide its platforms with a universal, meaningful movie service. Blockbuster and others have Android movie services, but the fragmentation of copy protection and hardware designs on the platform has made it virtually impossible to offer a universal option on 2.x phones the same way Apple can guarantee iTunes on every iOS device. YouTube would not only give a consistent option but would let Chrome OS and other devices with minimal storage watch videos on demand.