Amid the news Hulu would begin offering a premium service at about ten bucks a month, YouTube quietly opened up its own paid video rental service. ReadWriteWeb blog spotted this earlier today.
The online video giant began testing this service back during the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. YouTube rented movies from the festival for about $3.99 a pop for about ten days and made a total of about $10,709, as reported by NYT Bits Blog. So it definitely wasn't a big success, but it could be due largely in part that they were independent films the mainstream audience had never heard of.
Browsing around this new rental store you'll find titles ranging in price from $1.99 to $3.99. Genres include popular dramas, independents, bollywood, anime, documentary…basically a little bit of everything.
Payments go through Google checkout, so you have to upgrade your YouTube account with your credit card information if you want to rent something.
As you can tell, this isn't exactly like Netflix, which lets users pay a set monthly fee to stream online movies from their collection. It's more like Apple's iTunes Store, which also lets users rent and pay per movie, as you go. At the moment, YouTube definitely doesn't have all that many titles to offer, but has about 500 partners lined up ready to contribute according to reports.
Will it succeed? YouTube hasn't even officially announced the store yet, so probably not that many people know about it. Also, you'll have to watch these movies while connected to the Internet, so you're kind of glued to your desk unfortunately and can't really take these out on the road, like you can with iTunes rentals. Also, rental expiration times vary, which is kind of weird. I'm noticing some videos expire 24 hours after rental while other last up to 72 hours. Confusing.