You already know that YouTube is your source for watching awesome skateboarding moves, Sarah Palin blunders, cute pet tricks and Joe Biden gaffes.
Soon it might be your source for watching recent full-length movies, according to the New York Times.
YouTube, by far the most popular video Web site, is negotiating with major Hollywood studios to allow its visitors to pay to watch full-length movies, according to “people briefed on the negotiations” cited by the New York Times.
Details are sketchy. Spokespeople for Warner Brothers and Sony Pictures declined comment, but a Lionsgate spokesperson said it’s “always exploring alternatives” for increasing film profits.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, offers this:
“While we don’t comment on rumor and speculation, we hope to expand both on our great relationships with movie studios and on the selection and types of videos we offer our community.”
If YouTube scores some sort of deal, it would put itself in direct competition with Netflix, Amazon, Apple, Vudu and Blockbuster in the race to deliver quality streaming content to mainstream living rooms.
What would set YouTube apart in this race isn’t clear yet. Brand recognition and user familiarity with its interface are potential pluses. YouTube seems to think that getting access to full-length movies closer to their DVD releases might be a differentiator. From the New York Times:
Movie studios have been pushing YouTube to consider charging for certain types of content, said a person briefed on the discussions. YouTube appears willing to do so if the studios agree to give it access to enough of their newer films close to when they come out on DVD, the person said.
One studio executive — who was briefed on the talks but spoke on the condition of anonymity to minimize disruption to the discussions — said the issues still to be resolved were pricing and the timing of YouTube releases. Though DVD sales have dropped, studios remain protective of the period during which films and shows are available on DVD but not in other formats.
On its iTune’s site, Apple does offer some movies as soon as the day of its DVD release.
Netflix, which offers its “watch instantly” feature through several hardware partners, offers only about 17 percent of its movie and TV show library through that instant feature.
Vudu, which says it offers the most HD on-demand movies, recently partnered with Vizio, LG (which also partners with Netfllix) and most recently Mitsubishi.
YouTube has some hardware relationships of its own. Like Netflix, YouTube is offered through ZeeVee’s Zinc interface.
Sony’s Bravia Internet-ready devices also offer access to YouTube, as do the latest Blu-ray players from LG. And interestingly, one of the additional services offered by Vudu (along with Pandora, Flickr and Picasa) is YouTube viewing.
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