In yet another move to unseat Netflix from the Web’s movie rental throne, YouTube is expanding its movie rental service, which was launched in January, to add about 3,000 new movie titles for rent. New offerings include The King’s Speech, the latest installment of the Harry Potter series and The Green Hornet. The movies will come with reviews and behind-the-scenes extras, writes YouTube executive Salar Kalmangar in the company blog. The price of rentals will range from free to $3.99 for new releases.
YouTube is hoping to get a leg up on Netflix with the new offerings since many of these titles are only available on DVD through Netflix, while YouTube will let you rent and watch the movie right away. However, not all of Netflix’s DVD offerings are available for instant streaming on YouTube; Last year’s Academy Award-winning film The Hurt Locker is not available on YouTube, but you can still see it on DVD through Netflix.
While Netflix might seem to have the upper hand on the instant streaming market, YouTube has hundreds of millions of users across 25 countries and 43 languages. Netflix has more than 23 million users, but they’re limited to the U.S. and Canada.
With more than 35 hours of video being uploaded per minute, YouTube could also bank on movie-hungry users who are tired of having to deal with limited access to selected clips or restrictions on copyrighted videos. YouTube has faced numerous lawsuits over the years, including a recent $1 billion suit by Viacom, regarding copyright infringement because users managed to find loopholes through the website’s Content ID tool, which is supposed to verify the legitimacy of posted content, and continued to upload videos without seeking the proper permissions.