Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Can YouTube Become a Serious Streaming Movie Destination?


Video streaming options seem to be popping up across the Internet as quickly as viral videos. Of course, streaming video from the Internet is nothing new, but streaming movies and television shows is really just starting to catch fire among consumers. Facebook recently expanded their video rental service to offer six hit movies for viewers to stream, and now YouTube has announced it will be expanding its catalog by 3,000 movies.

What the move really does is put YouTube into a category similar to popular streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. However, the major difference is that YouTube is offering a purchase based experience rather than a subscription based service. While Hulu Plus offers many television programs after they air on broadcast television, it may only be a matter of time until Google owned YouTube manages to press their advantage as a popular video sharing destination for millions of users and expand into that market.

One of the main knocks against Netflix is the quality of titles available for streaming, while past seasons of television shows are one thing, the movie catalog is made up of older titles and very few blockbuster hits. The YouTube streaming selections, thanks to their agreements, will make the titles available the same time the movie is released on DVD. While this would seem to give YouTube an advantage, the $2.99 to $3.99 streaming rental charge may turn off Netflix subscribers used to unlimited streaming for less than $10 a month.

YouTube will absolutely be able to compete with other pay per movie streaming websites. Services like iTunes and Amazon Video on Demand offer similar options to the YouTube movies business model, whether or not enough video streaming fans exist to continue to make all the services viable will be interesting. Plus, there is always that Google TV platform that could play an expanded role, now that YouTube is featuring full-length films.

Still, many users will keep flocking to YouTube for the content that has made it such a powerhouse on the Internet. Short user created video blogs or other viral videos will probably always have a place on the web, and now they can be enjoyed on the same web site as some of the best films Hollywood has to offer. As long as the longer films do not pause constantly, YouTube might be onto something.

Jason Gallagher is a former travel professional and long-time Pennsylvania resident. These experiences give him a first-hand look at developing situations in the state and everything included in the travel industry from technology to trends.

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