YouTube Adds 3,000 Movie Titles for Rent

YouTube announced May 9 that it will now offer more than 3,000 additional films from three major studios for rent, with some titles reportedly available the same day as the DVD offering.

The Google-based video service recently signed deals with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros, Sony Corp’s Sony Pictures and Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures, in addition to its previously announced partner Lions Gate Entertainment.

YouTube has been offering movies for rent since early 2010, but its content was limited to catalog and independent fare. This announcement is a significant step in the video giant’s evolution from user-generated content to studio-produced fare.

In addition to movies, the video giant is offering YouTube Movie Extras, similar to DVD extras with behind-the-scenes videos, cast interviews, parodies and remixes made by YouTube users.

New-release titles are priced at $3.99 each, while catalog titles are available for $2.99. Renters have 24 hours to complete the viewing, and 30 days to begin watching the movie. Some older titles are available for free, supported by advertising.

“In addition to expanding our movie offerings, we’re also bolstering our investment in the content that’s already being viewed by hundred of millions of people on YouTube,” YouTube Head Salar Kamangar wrote in a blog post. “By expanding our content partnerships worldwide and stimulating the success of budding filmmakers, artists and entrepreneurs, we’ll ensure that YouTube remains the best place for the world to see and discover rich talent.”

YouTube is harnessing the power of social networking to market the service. Users will be able to share their movie rentals on Facebook and Twitter, but if the recipient clicks on the link they will see a trailer unless they also have rented the movie.

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