Five movies will be offered initially – including some that will be shown at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The prices – and length of time the rental period will last - will be set by the filmmakers. Each film will be available until Jan 31.
It’s a small test now, obviously. And it’s sticking with art-house films, but it’s still a huge step for YouTube and Google. This pilot program will let the company get an idea of the impact this sort of thing will have on its servers and could position the service as a viable alternative (or competitor) to Apple’s iTunes, Netflix and Hulu.
YouTube hasn’t given any indication on when it hopes to expand the program. It’s worth noting, though, that like Netflix, YouTube is available on many Internet-streaming TVs and Blu-ray players. So if the company rolls out a substantive paid streaming program, it will automatically have a large installed base of customers in both the living room and desktop.