The company did not find much profit in its earlier ventures into the rental space, meaning that expectations for its current product are low. Videos for rent cost between $0.99 and $3.99 for a 48 hour period.
While it is a nice addition to YouTube, expanding its content from free user uploaded streams to full feature films, the product suffers from a chronic lack of content. Before we delve into that, it should be noted that YouTube now supports HD streaming, which will render rentals rather high quality.
Content Is King, YouTube Rentals Is A Pauper
I searched for three movies, each a major film that did over one hundred million dollars in box office revenue, (Lord of the Rings, 8 Mile, Man on Fire), and YouTube had not a one.
It seems that at the moment YouTube Rentals is a portal to rent a smaller selection of independent and Bollywood films, with the occasional major movie mixed in. Lionsgate, for example, has a mere 38 movies on YouTube for rent.
That could change of course, YouTube Rentals does have Google’s bank account and regular YouTube’s tens of millions of viewers. This could be a match made in heaven. For now, it remains what appears to be a smaller experiment without much polish.
For now, Netflix is still king of rentals. While they still mail them to your door, they have the ones you need.