YouTube Store Still Tanks, Despite Oscar Fare


Consumers still aren’t warming up to YouTube’s video rentals, even with the site offering critically acclaimed movies like Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire, Reservoir Dogs and 3:10 to Yuma as paid streams. YouTube added titles from Indie powerhouse Lionsgate to its rental offering last week, but consumers have yet to bite: Precious, which received two Oscars at the 2010 Academy Awards, has just seen 1421 rentals in one week.

YouTube opened up a dedicated store front last week at (note: only accessible in the U.S.). The site also recently stopped displaying the play count of rental titles on its site. However, we were able to obtain numbers for many of its rental titles, and they explains why YouTube would be secretive about these details: 3:10 to Yuma, as one example, was only streamed 53 times in one week.

YouTube started to experiment with movie rentals in January when it offered a few Sundance titles for $3.99 each. Its users weren’t impressed by the offering, which allows them to stream a movie for 24 to 48 hours, with each title only seeing around 300 rentals over the course of their online opening weekend. YouTube told the New York Times back then that these were actually pretty good numbers for largely unknown independent films.

However, it doesn’t seem like having more popular fare is making any difference. Horror Blockbuster Saw has only seen 40 rentals on YouTube, and Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs has only been viewed 101 times, despite being offered for a discount price of $1.99. Here’s a list of the ten most popular movies of YouTube’s rental store, with yesterday’s play count:

  • Precious – 1421 views
  • The Cove – 1344 views
  • Running Down A Dream – 817 views
  • Bass Ackwards – 536 views
  • Brothers – 514 views
  • One Too Many Mornings – 394 views
  • The Socalled Movie – 357 views
  • Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired – 289 views
  • The September Issue – 287 views
  • Air Guitar Nation – 235 views

Altogether, these movies have just seen about 6200 rentals in a week’s time.

YouTube’s other rental store categories haven’t exactly been cash cows either. Anime shows generally have only gotten a few dozen views per episode max, and educational fare seems to do even worse. There’s one genre that seems to do fairly well: Bikini Destinations, a travel show featuring women in swimwear, has seen a few hundred rentals per episode.

YouTube’s Communications Manager Anna Richardson didn’t want to comment on those numbers, but tried to put a positive spin on the overall performance of the store. “It’s going really well so far,” she said, adding that this is just the early beta of YouTube’s rental program and that there hasn’t been any proactive outreach to potential customers yet.

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