While they may be the biggest name in web videos, the one trend that YouTube has seemingly steered clear of, save for partnerships with film festivals such as Sundance earlier this year, is feature film web streaming.
Being passed by the likes of Hulu and of course, the king of the game Netflix, YouTube has stayed relatively quiet with regards to streaming films, even after introducing YouTube Shows, which brought classic television shows to the computers of YouTube users.
Well, it looks like YouTube has had it with these other outlets taking their user’s time away from the online staple, as they have now introduced YouTube Movies. The collection of films clocks in at roughly 400 pieces, ranging from documentaries like After The Revolution, to an entire section of Bollywood films.
Now, while after looking through the selection of films, I didn’t see any Criterion Collection films as part of the collection here, but one can only think that if this thing takes off, that will definitely change. You can watch Mira (Monsoon Wedding) Nair’s film Kama Sutra, and Wim (Paris Texas, Wings of Desire) Wender’s documentary The Buena Vista Social Club, courtesy of Lions Gate. Also, I don’t know an outlet that offers this many Bollywood films, which for the average filmgoer, or even cinephile, may not be something you are too accustomed too. I know I’m not too versed in the world of Bollywood films, so this may be something I will have to dig through.
That said, at this point in the game, this is going to be a wait and see process. YouTube’s attempt to stream feature films through festivals like the aforementioned Sundance partnership, was far from a blockbuster of an outing, so it remains to be seen if YouTube users, used to 20 second clips of cats riding Roombas, will be keen to sit down and watch a feature film. Also, the films are ad supported, just like Hulu, so basically at this point, YouTube’s a Hulu-lite, with a far less expansive, and Criterion free, selection of films.
But who knows what this could become. YouTube users dwarf those of any other web video website, so who really knows at this point. Is this something you will be using? There are options for both free, and pay for rentals, which according to Deadline, is a model they are looking more and more into. The outlet (via The Financial Times) is reporting that YouTube, run by Google, is in talks with major Hollywood studios to create a new pay-per-view site, which if deals are completed, would be up and running by the year’s end, with prices topping out at $5 for major titles.
What do you think about this news? Do you think YouTube will have a major part of the online streaming pie, or are films and television shows just not what the average YouTube user wants? Personally, I think the site would need some big time exclusive deals to make a major splash, but what about you?