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YouTube start film rental in UK

PCScreen.jpgIt's interesting that I was just writing about how some cinemas are holding the studios to ransom over them moving to try out new models of distribution in order to maximise profits and curb piracy, and then just a few days later the story arrives that some big studios have signed deals with YouTube to allow them to rent out their films for anyone and everyone.

It's a service that follows the model that has already been opened in the US and Canada, and one that is working for many other online film rental companies including LOVEFiLM in the UK. Now it really looks like the studios are starting to try something with the audience instead of fighting them.

This story really does put a spanner in the works for the cinemas that are holding out against the studios shortening the release times to DVD and Blu-ray, for it's getting easier and easier for the audience to see films and also for the studios to get them to an audience.

The Guardian has the story about the new service from YouTube which comes to the UK, now you can visit the site and rent a film from £2.49 to £3.49 and you get a thirty day period to watch anything you rent.

What really adds weight to this service is who have signed up to put their films on the site, and that's where the surprise comes and reveals that Hollywood just might have realised the shift. The company have signed deals with Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Universal, Lionsgate, Revolver Entertainment, and Metrodome.

Now that's a fair list of studios, and it's no surprise really as the service has been running in the US and Canada and there have been a number of streaming rental services online already, including the highly successful LOVEFiLM in the UK. However this is YouTube, it's fully online and is not coming from a film rental service, and it's a purely online video upload and sharing site, albeit the busiest video website online, with more than 100 million unique monthly viewers, according to figures released by Nielsen in June..

That for me is the difference. While the other services have been stretching their capabilities from film rental there are still a lot of restrictions, and if the studios are allowing an online video sharing site to rent out their films it is arguably the biggest move from the studios we've seen yet.

I had a quick gander at the first page of the YouTube rental site and found Fast and Furious Five or Fast Five (Filmstalker review), Faster, Hanna (Filmstalker review), Priest, Blitz, Wrecked, Senna, to grab but a few titles from first sight. It's a good service, and with more and more internet connected devices which are either your television or connected to your television allow you to access them directly away from a computer screen, these services are just going to grow and grow.

As a counter to the previous article I wrote about the inability to move to a more modern model of film distribution, this is the biggest step yet and shows that they are more than willing to make the move.

Still, this does not mean cinemas are dead, far from it. They'll have to work harder to deliver a wider experience, and by that I don't mean more 3D but what a number of independent cinemas are doing round the country with live events and broadcast introductions and Q&A's to films, and realise that the turnaround between cinematic release and DVD, Blu-ray and online will be far quicker. It doesn't mean their death, it means they have to find their new business model too.




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