Posted January 21, 2010 7:21 am by with 11 comments

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YouTube is always on the prowl to find ways to make money off the gazillion gaziggawatts of video that it already has and is always collecting. As with most online services this quest for revenue is an ongoing battle that requires considerable creativity as well as a lot of experimentation. On Friday YouTube will roll out its online video rental option as one of those attempts to add to Google’s coffers.

The Wall Street Journal tells us

Google Inc.’s YouTube said it will begin testing a new online video service on Friday, entering the rental turf of other technology giants such as Apple Inc., Inc. and Netflix Inc.

YouTube will begin testing the service with five movies from the Sundance Film Festival, the company said Wednesday in a blog post. It plans to later expand its rental selection to a range of health, education and fitness categories, a company spokesman said.

The disclosure marks one of YouTube’s first major pushes into delivering paid video rather than supplying videos that can be viewed for free in exchange for watching ads. YouTube is hoping that the new payment option—which allows a content supplier to set the price per rental—will draw more professional content, including offerings from major film and TV studios, to its site.

I am probably the worst person to be talking about video rentals because in my house there isn’t much room for art in between the Dora the Explorer videos my three year adores (and the rest of us simply tolerate) and other things vying for our attention. In other words, I may be in the market but until this service is more mainstreamed I will be on the sidelines.

YouTube is trying to differentiate itself from the competition like Amazon, Apple and Netflix by presenting a flexible pricing option for video offering.

Media companies could be enticed by the more flexible business model YouTube is offering. Unlike Apple’s iTunes Store, which has set tiers of pricing for rentals of movies, Google is allowing partners to set the price that it will charge consumers and how long they want the rental to last.

Consumers must pay through Google’s payment service, Google Checkout. Google and the content supplier will split the revenue, with the partner getting the majority, a YouTube spokesman said.

The first five films, which will cost $3.99 to rent from Friday through Jan. 31, will include “The Cove,” a documentary about the dolphin fishing industry, and “Homewrecker,” a comedy about a locksmith.

Personally I find stories about companies trying to monetize their offerings vs stories about innovation pretty much the same thing no matter who is trying to generate revenue. It’s just another business saying “If you really like our service we’re going to make you pay …….. someday, some way.”