According to an article from New York Times , YouTube has finally announced its entry into the film rental business today, and will start partnering with five independent films from either last year or this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Rentals for these five films will begin this Friday for $3.99 each, and run until the end of this year’s Sundance Film Festival. These five movies will serve as the first step in a much larger plan, as more movies can be expected to arrive on the site in the future.
What does this mean for the film industry, and also, for film lovers?
First, as YouTube’s entertainment market manager Sara Pollack said in the New York Times article, “Only a tiny fraction of the films submitted at Sundance were able to find some form of commercial distribution, and that YouTube would provide a new outlet for independent filmmakers.”
I believe that Youtube as a popular platform can offer many independent movies, that otherwise might never find theatrical or home video distribution, a viable way to test themselves in the market or even break through and prove they do have marketable value. And when these independent filmmakers succeed on YouTube, they can then migrate to the big screens.
Second, the article predicts the rental business of YouTube will provide a new model to monetize the current amateur videos on Youtube, meaning a huge database of YouTube short clips may unleash massive revenue streams in the future. More and more amateur video makers may turn into independent film producers, and more democracy and leverage will be handed to netizen film makers.
Third, not only can films benefit, but maybe in the future copyrighted TV show will also come to YouTube to join the rental business. When that day comes, perhaps Hulu.com has already started charging for TV shows and films, as recent rumors have suggested. The competition YouTube has brought into the market can prevent Hulu from dominating and monopolizing.
Last but not least, for film watchers, we will all be able to share our thoughts about movies we watch in real time with so many others who are also watching, similar to how Facebook/CNN’s broadcast of President Obama’s inauguration last year allowed millions of people to watch and comment in real-time. Even though Hulu currently provides commenting functions, due to the limits of its social networking features and small user base, there has never been a comparable real-time commenting phenomenon, but that could be expected in Youtube’s future. And when people are watching videos, if they do not want to hear the whispering comments of others, there should also be a function to let people lower the “volume” of live comments so they can enjoy the movie by themselves in their own private setting.