YouTube launches video rentals, chases Apple and HTML5

YouTube will begin testing a video rental service in the US this Friday, opening what some regard as yet another page in Google’s fast-developing rivalry with Apple.

Initially limited to five movies from independent producers being shown at this year’s Sundance Festival, a YouTube spokesman said the scheme would be extended in the coming weeks to some healthcare and fitness videos before being used across a broad range of content,

The news comes less than a week before Apple is expected to unveil its tablet device, which could extend the reach of its own video platform.

“While YouTube has offered an easy and economical way for filmmakers – as well as content creators of all kinds – to instantaneously connect with fans around the world, many of them have told us that the ad-supported business model doesn’t always meet their distribution and monetization needs,” YouTube said in a blog on its Web site.

“YouTube said it would let video producers decide what price to charge and how long to make their rental “windows”. Four of the Sundance movies would be available for $3.99 each with unlimited viewing over a period of 48 hours. At least 51 per cent of the money collected through the rental service would go to content owners, with that proportion rising to as much as 80 per cent.” (FT)

In related news, YouTube has introduced an experimental version of an HTML5-supported player. HTML5 is a new web standard that is gaining popularity rapidly and adds many new features to your web experience. Most notably for YouTube users, HTML5 includes support for video and audio playback.
This means that users with an HTML5 compatible browser, and support for the proper audio and video codecs can watch a video without needing to download a browser plugin.

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