Google's YouTube Eyes Movie Rentals: What's a Netflix Fan to Do?

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2009-09-03 Print this article Print

I am a professional YouTube user in the sense that I frequent Google's video-sharing Website to look at demonstrations from many of the high-tech companies I cover for and this blog.

From Google Apps product demos to new tools from collaboration startups like WizeHive, I find myself whisked to watch something on YouTube daily, often via Google search.

I don't go to YouTube much for television and movie entertainment. For that, I have Netflix, where I stream shows like "Weeds" and "Dexter" and rent DVDs, including anything from IMAX nature productions to "Little House on the Prairie" and current movies.

So what am I to think when I see the Wall Street Journal and others report that YouTube executives are talking to Lions Gate, Sony, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Bros about streaming movies for $3.99 a pop?

That pits YouTube versus my Netflix, Apple's iTunes Store and Amazon. A YouTube offer could be a no-brainer for people who don't yet subscribe to any streaming movie service.

But while I am a devout Google search and Web services user in my personal and professional life, I am an equally devout Netflix user in my personal life.

I am happy with Netflix, so I guess my question is: What would YouTube offer me that Netflix doesn't? If $3.99 per movie is the sole pricing model, Netflix has that beat for me. I can rent three DVDs at a time as often as I want for about $18 per month with tax.

Ah, but wait, YouTube is streaming new movies. Netflix doesn't stream brand-new films; I have to wait awhile to get new movies streamed from the Netflix server to my laptop, and by that time they're not so new.

While I'm content to stream "Weeds" or "Dexter" through my laptop, I don't want to watch movies with my family on my computer.

My TV service is provided by AT&T U-Verse. If YouTube were to enable new films to run through AT&T's pipe and then through my TV, I'd be all set.

The Journal also indicated some of the movies could be delivered free, with advertising. Now that would be something I could get interested in. It would make me think twice about paying to wait for Netflix's DVDs to show up at my door.

Netflix would then have to scrap its DVD business and offer to stream me new movies, not just through my computer, but through my U-Verse service as well.

How do you think the YouTube streaming movie service will take shape? |

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