YouTube offers Sundance films on demand

YouTube isn't going to be giving Netflix much of a run for the money in the VOD segment -- at the moment -- despite its announcement that it'll start offering movie rentals on its site Friday. The video Goliath is putting just a handful of indie movies from the Sundance Film Festival up at $3.99 each.

The toe-in-the-water approach on pay-per-view isn't Google's first foray into the marketplace; it's already launched and killed one VOD play after a bumpy -- and apparently unprofitable -- ride.

Late last year, rumors about Google searching for studio and programming partners for a VOD venture began bubbling, but little more has been seen on that front. The company has been looking for more ways to monetize the world's most popular video site, which it bought for $1.65 billion in 2006. It has yet to see a cash-flow positive year, although it streamed more than 12 billion videos in the U.S. last November, and is reported to stream some 30 billion a day worldwide.

The Sundance offerings may be the first of several other initiatives YouTube plans to float this year, according to YouTube.

"In addition to these five films, a small collection of rental videos from other U.S. partners across different industries, including health and education, will be made available in the weeks ahead," YouTube said in the blog post.

The Sundance films being offered on YouTube include:

  • The Cove, from the 2009 festival (see the trailer)
  • One Too Many Mornings, from the 2009 festival (see the trailer)
  • Homewrecker, from the 2010 festival (see the trailer)
  • Children of Invention, from the 1020 festival (see the trailer)
  • Bass Ackwards, from the 2010 festival (see the trailer)

The movies will be available until the festival's close, Jan. 31.