YouTube announced the launch of an online movie rental program for Canadian viewers September 1. With more than a thousand titles available for $4 to $5, or free for older movies, YouTube is attempting to break into Canada’s movie/TV rental market. As of 2010, the market was largely dominated by physical stores, which took in and estimated 94 percent of rental revenue, according to The Convergence Consulting Group.
So far, it doesn’t seem that YouTube has their sights set on taking their share of the estimated $2.4 billion Canadian online advertising market, as the listing pages are free of ads. Commercials served up as previews to YouTube rentals are the offerings of the company responsible for uploading the film.
As Blockbuster stores across Canada are poised to close six months after the troubled movie rental chain went into bankruptcy receivership, YouTube plans to give Netflix a run for their money.
Canadian users of the service have a 30 day window in which to open the movie on YouTube, then 48 hours to view their rental. New titles include "The Conspirator", "Of Gods and Men", and thriller "Repeater" as well as Canada-only titles such as "Hobo with a Shotgun".
It will be interesting to see how YouTube, a Google property, plans to overtake Netflix, which clearly plans to dominate the rising mobile market; they had an iPad app out the day the device was released in 2010. Netflix also launched an app for streaming on the Android platform, more Google territory, in May 2011.
YouTube has also been pushing YouTube movie rentals in the U.S. since 2009, and recently announced the addition of 3,000 movie titles.
But Canada beats the U.S. on video consumption, according to comScore figures released in April. About 90 percent of Canadian Internet users watched online video in March – which translates to 251 videos or about 17 hours; in the U.S., 84 percent of Internet users watched an average of 204 videos, or 15 hours worth of video.