YouTube has offered movies for rent for more than a year now, which is great news for fans of obscure independent flicks, the Jesse Ventura vehicle Wood Shop, dated Bollywood titles, or Scary Movie 4. And while some recognizable titles from Lionsgate and the Weinstein Company do appear at the YouTube store, those who rent more mainstream fare online are likely using Amazon, Netflix or iTunes—a fact not lost on the video-sharing giant. That may soon change.
According to two anonymous studio executives quoted in the New York Times, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers, and Universal Pictures have agreed to rent movies through YouTube, putting the site that much closer to completing a two-year effort to partner with major studios for distribution purposes. While the announcement would no doubt be a coup for YouTube, many of the major players—including 20th Century Fox, Paramount, and Walt Disney Studios—remain uncommitted. (In fact, Paramount’s corporate parent Viacom is still embroiled in a $1 billion court battle with YouTube over copyright infringement).
Despite a slow start for YouTube’s movie rental services, it’s no doubt apparent to interested studio execs that YouTube’s corporate parent, Google, is able to provide partners with a treasure trove of search data ideally suited to marketing purposes.
YouTube declined comment on the Times report.
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