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YouTube turns pay-per-view

YouTube announced that it will make movies from the 2009 and 2010 Sundance film festivals available for online rental. It’s the first time that YouTube, which historically has offered its video free, will charge users.

tech reviews Updated: Jan 27, 2010 20:39 IST

The world’s most popular free video Website is getting into the pay-per-view business.



Google Inc.’s

YouTube

announced that it will make movies from the 2009 and 2010 Sundance film festivals available for online rental. It’s the first time that

YouTube

, which historically has offered its video free, will charge users.



Offering a pay service is a clear sign that Google, which has struggled to make a profitable business out of

YouTube

after buying it in 2006 for $1.65 billion, is looking for new ways to monetise the service. Luring advertisers to YouTube has been difficult because they have shied away from some of the content uploaded by users.



The Sundance movies are just a prologue for a much more ambitious pay-per-view venture, said people familiar with

YouTube

’s plans, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorised to discuss the matter.



The Website is also expected to make other TV shows and Hollywood films available for rent.



A

YouTube

spokesman, while declining to elaborate, said in an e-mail that in “the coming weeks we’ll also invite a small group of partners across other industries, in addition to independent film, to participate in this new option."



Most of the Sundance films are being offered for $3.99 each (Rs 184), to be viewed during a 48-hour period. Offering pay-per-view movies and TV shows will put

YouTube

up against competitors like Apple’s iTunes Store and

Amazon.com

. However,

YouTube

has the advantage of a huge audience that comes to its site for free videos. It streamed more than 12 billion videos in November, according to Comscore.



-MCT