YouTube Launches Film Streaming Service

YouTube is now offering users the chance to stream up to 3,000 films to their computers

In another sign of how viewing habits are moving online, Google’s YouTube has launched its own film streaming video service.

It entered the video on demand fray by offering 3,000 film titles, in a bid to compete with Netflix and in the burgeoning market for on-demand video.

YouTube said it will sell various and sundry popular Hollywood films, as well as a smattering of independent and foreign fare in the US through its new YouTube Movies website.

Films On Demand

The content, which comes from the likes of partners Universal, Time Warner’s Warner Bros. and Sony includes “Caddyshack,” “Goodfellas,” “Scarface,” as well as fresher releases such as “Inception,” “The King’s Speech,” and the “Little Fockers.”

The films will be paired with reviews from Rotten Tomatoes and movie extras such a cast interviews and parodies. People may watch films by logging into their YouTube account on any computing device, including their Google TV units.

YouTube is following Amazon in charging 99 cents (£0.60) to $3.99 (£2.44) for each video, as well as offering some free titles. Netflix, which has largely scaled back its mail-delivery DVD business, offers its streaming service in the US for $7.99 (£4.88) per month.

Viewers who choose to stream a film will have 30 days to begin watching their rental, with 24 hours to finish watching it once they start. YouTube is accepting all major credit cards.

TechCrunch has posted a Q&A on the new service.

YouTube is coming at this market from the ground up. While Netflix, Hulu and Amazon have delivered professional produced content from their inception, YouTube is currently serving 2 billion mostly user-generated videos each day across 350 million devices, such as PCs, smartphones, tablets and TVs.

Despite this explosion in user-generated video, there is only so much of that amateur content people are willing to watch.

TV Time

What YouTube learned, according to YouTube head Salar Kamangar, is that users would watch 15 minutes per day on YouTube, perhaps during a break for studies or work, but spend 5 hours a day watching TV.

“As the lines between online and offline continue to blur, we think that’s going to change,” Kalamangar said in a blog post.

Crucial to this plan is getting people to access YouTube not just from their computers and handheld gadgets, but from their home entertainment hubs: their TVs.

That’s where Google TV comes in. Google TV, the Android and Google Chrome-based Web TV services, includes YouTube Leanback, which is YouTube’s effort to roll a video stream without interruption.

By pairing that service with streaming movies, YouTube is better positioned to meet its goal of serving consumers’ 5 hours of TV viewing each day.

Of course, Google TV heavily features a Netflix and streaming applications so it remains to be seen if YouTube, which runs Google TV is going to start favouring its own streaming service over Netflix.