YouTube pursues streaming movie rentals, WSJ says

Another barrier to simple streaming movie rentals might be coming down soon.

Google’s YouTube is in talks with three major movie studios about bringing newer titles into the site for a charge of about $3.99, according to The Wall Street Journal. The site has full-length movies already, but they aren’t particularly well-known.

If a deal comes through with the three studios, Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., Sony Corp. and Warner Bros., it would let YouTube join the ranks of other other companies experimenting with streaming or downloaded movie rentals like Netflix, Amazon and Apple’s iTunes.

Trying to wrest stronger advertising revenues from the site, YouTube has been working hard to attract premium content like its competitor Hulu. It signed an online distribution deal with Time Warner last month, adding to agreements with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal, MGM Studios and Walt Disney. Advertising on the site has also become more invasive, with overlays over videos and tie-ins to prompt viewers into buying songs.

Ten thousand Google employees were supposed to pilot the rental program at the end of this month, but the test was pushed back as negotiations dragged on, according to the Journal.

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