[credit provider=”Fred Figglehorn” url=”http://www.youtube.com/fred”]
YouTube will imminently launch a movie-on-demand service charging users to stream movies off the world’s largest video sharing site, TheWrap has learned.The new service means a full-bore challenge to Apple’s iTunes service – currently the most powerful player in paid video streaming — and a welcome new revenue stream for Hollywood.
The service may start as early as this week or next, and is expected to be announced imminently by YouTube.
YouTube declined to comment for this story.
“We think it will start with VOD, but broaden to include sell-through over time,” said a senior executive at one Hollywood studio that has signed the deal with YouTube. “We are pretty excited because we are happy to see new entrants come in transactionally rather than a subscription model.”
The service is the biggest studio VOD deal since all the major studios signed on to Apple’s iTunes rental service in January 2008. Fox, Disney, Warner Bros., Paramount, Universal, Sony, MGM, Lionsgate and New Line were all on board for that initiative. Apple charged as low as $2.99 rental fee for that service.
It was not clear what YouTube would charge. But it means the site’s 130 million monthly users will be able to pay to watch movies as they come out into the DVD market; it is the first serious foray by the Google-owned company into mainstream movies and charging money for video.
Hollywood studios have long struggled to find a way to marry their high quality content – for which they want to be paid – with the largest video site in the world best known for cats peeing on toilets.
Major studios including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers and Universal have licensed their movies for the new service, as have numerous independent studios, including Lionsgate and the library-rich Kino Lorber, according to movie executives with knowledge of the deals in place.
Paramount and Fox have declined to be part of the service at this time, according to knowledgeable executives.
The movies will be available on the same day and date as they can be rented at video stores or iTunes, far ahead of other subscription streaming services such as Netflix.
“What’s really good about their approach is rather than another subscription offering, they’re going into fresh area where has been fewer leaps forward,” said the studio executive.
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