YouTube expands movies offerings with support from 3 major Hollywood studios

YouTube jumped into the video-on-demand fray with both feet, today launching a new streaming movie service with content from a number of major Hollywood studios including NBC Universal, Sony Pictures and Warner Bros. YouTube said it will add 3,000 new titles to its existing service, bringing YouTube's offering to more than 6,000 films.

The movies will likely be available only in SD, YouTube said, depending upon content owners. Rentals will cost $3.99 for new releases and $2.99 for library content, YouTube said. Users will have access to a film for 30 days and have 24 hours to finish watching one that's been started, similar to other offerings. The content will be available at YouTube said that, depending upon the studo, some titles could be available at the same time DVDs are released.

Titles to be available include older hits and cult classics like Caddyshack, Goodfellas, Scarface, and Taxi Driver as well as new releases like Inception, The King's Speech, Little Fockers, The Green Hornet and Despicable Me. YouTube account holders can watch the films on any computer, as well as on Google TV, which is somewhat of a coup for the platform.

"While six years ago you had to move device, room and platform to get all the video that matters most to you, today you can find it all on YouTube," said YouTube head Salar Kamangar. "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 continuing to expand its stable of studios; in addition to the three studios announced today, YouTube already has deals with Lionsgate, Staz, The Weinstein Co. and Magnolia Pictures, among others.

In an interesting twist, YouTube will allow users to embed the movies on other sites, a boon for content owners. When clicked on, a user who has not rented the movie will see a trailer and an overlay that users can click on to rent the whole movie.

"You’re watching videos to the tune of 2 billion views a day," said Kalangar "But you’re spending just 15 minutes a day on YouTube, and spending five hours a day watching TV. As the lines between online and offline continue to blur, we think that’s going to change."

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