Google to Launch Pay-Per-View Movies on YouTube

Watch out, iTunes

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The Financial Times reports that Google, having bought YouTube a few years back, is now negotiating with studios to "launch a global pay-per-view video service by the end of 2010." Look out, iTunes. Here's the analysis from tech bloggers on the move that could reshape the Internet video landscape for good:

  • Certainly Illuminates Earlier Google-Verizon Deal  These videos would be streaming, not downloadable. This means that the proposal "would tie in quite nicely with Google's recent deal with Verizon to gut net neutrality," according to Larence Latif at The Inquirer. How? "It is likely that Google will be looking for major Internet service providers ... to deploy some sort of quality of service ... regime to ensure traffic from Youtube is handled at a higher priority than others." Latif also points out that if the service does launch, competitors are likely to aim for similar setups. But will any of them be able to shell out the cash to Internet service providers on par with Google? Latif adds that Google et al. "must believe it's inevitable" that they'll be able to "roll over the US Federal Communications Commission" if they're already wheeling and dealing like this.
  • Guaranteed to 'Shake Up Web Video,' judges Larry Dignan on ZDNet. "The YouTube pay-per-view effort would be aimed squarely at Web rivals such as Hulu and Apple's iTunes as well as Netflix and the cable industry," with Apple naturally being the first one to feel the heat: "Will you rent a movie from iTunes or YouTube?" The new videos would also, says Dignan, be "likely to put YouTube on the profitable side for good."
  • And Cable  This is part of the "full-on assault on cable," asserts TechCrunch's MG Siegler. Google and YouTube are just one more story. Apple TV is also in the works.
  • The 'Big Break'  "YouTube must be frustrating for Google sometimes," comments Adrianne Jeffries at ReadWriteWeb. They bought it for $1.65 billion but it "almost seems like more trouble than it's worth," with most of the revenue coming from ads and costly lawsuits eating away at much of that. This deal could change all that.
  • The Grand Plan  "What's tricky about this service," explains Fast Company's Dan Nosowitz, "compared to all other digital movie distribution services (Apple's iTunes, Netflix) is that there isn't currently an officially supported means to get YouTube videos onto your TV." Windows Media Center just won't cut it. But "that's where Google TV comes in," he says:
Google TV is a major push into the living room from Google, consolidating cable TV, streaming media, and search all into one box ... What it lacks, compared to other, similar boxes like the Apple TV, is its own service, and this YouTube rental idea could be just what Google TV needs to compete with Apple, Amazon, and, indirectly (as it's not a subscription service), Netflix. Of course, it remains to be seen if Google TV will be a success. I have my doubts ...
  • Actually, This Isn't Entirely New  "Unbeknownst to most users, YouTube has actually been offering streaming movie rentals from a number of smaller studios since January," points out Jon Stokes at Ars Technica. They've been "expanding ... to a wider number of content partners ...What will launch later in the year, then, will presumably be a version of the service with most or all of the major studios on board."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.