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As reported here earlier this year, Google has started experimenting with renting films on the YouTube site. At the “YouTube Store“, you can rent feature-length films as well as shorter program episodes. Much of the content is from the Sundance Film Festival, but the offerings have been expanding to include other titles, some of which are familiar commercial films such as “Brothers”, “The Cooler”, and “Reservoir Dogs”. Rentals range from $.99 to $3.99, for which you get unlimited viewing for a limited period. Most titles are good for 24 hours, but some educational content rentals are good for seven days. There are also a number of Bollywood movies and anime programs available on the site.

This streaming service is interesting but remains somewhat short of compelling. If you only rent two movies a month, you’d probably be better off with a single-disc Netflix subscription to gain access to their streaming catalog. Netflix currently offers a much larger catalog that is likely to appeal to more people. However, the YouTube service is clearly in an experimental stage, and I’ve learned not to bet against Google. The company is likely trying to figure out what works, and may well be preparing a more complete service in the future. As a result, it will be worth keeping an eye on developments at the YouTube Store.

Posted by Alfred Poor, April 27, 2010 6:00 AM

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About Alfred Poor

Alfred Poor is a well-known display industry expert, who writes the daily HDTV Almanac. He wrote for PC Magazine for more than 20 years, and now is focusing on the home entertainment and home networking markets.