YouTube Joins Wal-Mart in Streaming Video

Published July 29, 2011

| New York Post

Walmart isn't the only one looking to push its streaming video movie service into the mainstream.

Google's popular YouTube site is also finalizing plans to push its nascent paid movie rental business into the mainstream in the next few months, sources familiar with plans told The Post.

One source said an announcement of such video-on-demand plans was expected before the end of the year.

In addition to the possibility of YouTube giving greater prominence on its home page to its video-streaming service, a source said Google would give the service some firepower by putting it on Android phones and tablets.

"You're going to start seeing YouTube on more devices," said one source familiar with plans.

The idea is that a big movie rental selection could help drive Android-powered devices in the way that Apple's iTunes movies and TV shows help sell its hardware.

Google is still working on developing a music download service that uses the same business gameplan.

With former Netflix executive Robert Kyncl and former Paramount digital executives Alex Carloss and Malik Ducard now aboard, YouTube finally has the team in place to start making things happen, a source told The Post.

Google boss Larry Page has also made developing YouTube a major priority.

The paid movie service launched in the US in May, but isn't immediately obvious today on the home page. It has some 6,000 titles and recently released movies, including "Limitless" and "The King's Speech." Customers have 30 days to begin a movie, but just 24 hours to watch it once it's started.

Google is different from its competitors in that it plays up community reviews. Users can see what rating a movie won on a well-known review aggregator, Rotten Tomatoes.com. The movie is also surrounded by content, including clips of interviews with the actors and trailers. A Google spokesman had no comment.

Three studios have already signed on to support YouTube's plans, including Universal, Sony and Warner, while others, like Paramount, Fox and Disney, are not committed. Lionsgate is believed to be eyeing the service with interest.

The streaming video space is getting hotter, with NBCUniversal the latest to tie with Amazon for its own movies and TV service. Amazon already nailed a wide-ranging deal with CBS.

Meanwhile, Netflix is continuing to acquire content for its overseas expansion in Latin America and the UK.

According to comScore, YouTube was the top video property in the US, attracting some 147.2 million unique users with an average of 311 minutes spent per viewer on the site.

Digital video-on-demand revenue grew from $435.3 million to $473 million, up 8.7 percent, according to first-quarter data from Digital Entertainment Group.

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