NY Times reports YouTube has entered the movie rental market with five movies, all from independent filmmakers. All five films offered on YouTube are part of the Sundance Film Festival and will be available only from Friday to the end of the film festival on January 31. Renters will pay $3.99 using Google's Checkout service.
By comparison, Netflix gives its customers the choice of thousands of films, and most cable operators offer their customers large catalogs of on-demand films. More movies will come to the YouTube service later, but the company did not say when or what films it may offer.
Still, YouTube’s decision to dip its toes in online rentals represents a significant, if expected, shift for the online video site. YouTube has thrived by offering an eclectic collection of free video clips and earns most of its revenue from advertising. YouTube already offers some older, full-length movies on its site free.