YouTube first started testing a rental program with four Sundance films in January. The ten-day experiment netted an estimated $10,000. In March, YouTube apparently expanded the rental option to all its users. As YouTube looks to further expand its rental program, they could also use some work on publicity for the titles they’re already offering.
MediaPost reports on YouTube’s plans for future rentals:
YouTube engineers are working on a self-service method that will give moviemakers the ability to upload and provide their streaming content for rent, Hunter Walk, who heads product management at YouTube, told MediaPost.
The option aims to keep Google’s video site on a path to continually simplify the site and its features. Walk says engineers also have been working on a process that simplifies the ability for people to upload movies to the site that have been created on a mobile phone.
Meanwhile, as AllThingsD notes, YouTube already has plenty of professional content available for rental. A partnership with Lionsgate film studio, inked in July 2008, may be the source of the company’s film rentals on the site, available starting last week. Movies ranging from classics like Reservoir Dogs to more recent releases like Gamer and Precious are available for $1 to $6 for a 24-hour rental.
However, apparently few know about or are interested in the service. With 135M video viewers watching 96 videos a month (as of March, from MediaPost), you’d think a $4 rental on an Oscar winner would attract more than 1500 views a week. Not the case, according to NewTeeVee. YouTube’s US-only rental store garnered just over 6000 rentals among its top 10 most popular films last week. If NewTeeVee’s figures are accurate, the top ten films grossed $21,200 their first week.
Not exactly a box office take. But, then, the service also hasn’t gotten the press of a new release—or even an independent film. If they really want to make off this effort, maybe they should focus on that aspect first.
What do you think? Did you know YouTube had “real” movies to rent?