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Google Shutting Down Paid Video

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Google today emailed customers who had purchased videos from Google Video to let them know that the company will be discontinuing paid rentals and downloads five days from now. Not only will videos no longer be available for rental or download, but previously purchased videos will no longer be playable. By way of apology, Google is offering $2 coupons for Google Checkout (or at least that’s the amount on the notice we saw; see below; update: refunded amount seems to be however much the customer spent on Google Video).

Google Video went through many revisions before taking the state it has today — a video search engine — at one point offering TV screen caps, at another trying to match YouTube feature for feature, and now fading away as a destination now that YouTube is owned by Google. Interestingly, the ability to make purchases through Google Video actually preceded the company’s launch of its payment service, Google Checkout. [digg=]

I’ve been tracking the Google Video RSS feed of items for sale since about the time we started NewTeeVee, and literally the only thing that comes across is episodes of the Charlie Rose Show. I don’t think the payment option was a very heavily used (or promoted) service.

On the other hand, it’s not like iTunes is stepping up to help independent video producers sell their wares, so it’s somewhat disappointing to see this go away.

Below is the reprint of an email sent out to Google Video purchasers today (thanks Jakob).


As a valued Google user, we’re contacting you with some important
information about the videos you’ve purchased or rented from Google Video.
In an effort to improve all Google services, we will no longer offer the
ability to buy or rent videos for download from Google Video, ending the
DTO/DTR (download-to-own/rent) program. This change will be effective
August 15, 2007.

To fully account for the video purchases you made before July 18, 2007, we
are providing you with a Google Checkout bonus for $2.00. Your bonus
expires in 60 days, and you can use it at the stores listed here: The minimum purchase
amount must be equal to or greater than your bonus amount, before shipping
and tax.

After August 15, 2007, you will no longer be able to view your purchased
or rented videos.

If you have further questions or requests, please do not hesitate to
contact us. Thank you for your continued support.


The Google Video Team

Google Inc.

1600 Amphitheatre Parkway

Mountain View, CA 94043

51 Responses to “Google Shutting Down Paid Video”

  1. I agree with James. The best way to resolve the problem is to make online video content free with ads. According to the recent Online Publishers Association and Piper Jaffray studies over 50% of online video consumers willing to be served ads in exchange for viewing free content. It seems to me that ads are the answer to monetization. So just like in other areas of publication, content creators will be compensated based on their ad revenue. Why should online video content be any different than television or print media content?

    The key is to get content that is relevant to what the consumer is watching or searching for—OPA found 56% of consumers polled wanted contextual, relevant, video ads.

    Companies like ScanScout will be the ones that drive advances in online video and online video consumption. ScanScout matches content with appropriate contextual ads. ScanScout’s technology provides a three way, aural, visual, and text/data, tagging and filtering system—it is the only company in this space to offer all three. It matches contextually relevant ads with all types of video media, including UGC video media.

  2. Nick Berg

    @charbax: “If each independant video producer starts charging people using credit cards on their own sites, this is not a business model that is going to work. We need the big coorporation or the government to set a standard for web content monetization. Currently there are none that work as far as I know.”

    You want the government (and you don’t specify which of several hundred countries governments you’d prefer) to come in and start regulating purchasing standards? Wow. Seriously dude. There’s this thing called a free market which allows people to start a business in their garage on a shoestring budget and then the consumers decide which one is best. Or you could let the government be your nanny just so that some video producers who want to make a buck are able to without any effort.

  3. In other news, Trader Joe’s to stop selling Eggplant Pasta Sauce.

    A representative from Trader Joe’s will be round later to remove any jars of Eggplant Pasta Sauce you might currently have in your pantry, as the sauce is incompatable with Trader Joe’s pasta strategy moving forward.

    Or maybe not.

  4. @ Mr. Viddy

    Google Video isn’t closing. It’s only the DRM part of Google Video that is shut down.

    Hopefully the video files will be available without DRM on a different business model or by simply selling the higher quality downloads without DRM just as Charlie Rose has been doing on Google Video from the start.

  5. The bottom line is Google Video sucked. The interface was not user friendly and it was a chore to browse what they offered. It was one of Google’s biggest failures in my opinion and I am a fan of Google. Not a big loss in my eyes.

  6. @charles

    Google is giving 100% of the money back that people spent on the DRM’d video. That’s pretty damn non-evil to me–though it ought to be cash and not “credit.” It’s still a long way from “stealing.”

    However, the main reason I’m writing this comment is your snide remark about Google’s dealings with the FCC. I worked with a non-profit group that fully supported Google’s plans. The only interests to come ought against it were the telcos…. imagine that. Whatever you think about the company’s other policies, they’re one of the first major players to ask the FCC to set rules that would be in the public interest, and not just in the interest of their bottom line. Google’s work with the FCC improved my opinion of them.

  7. A situation like this really brings out one of the large flaws in DRM. Prior buyers just should not suffer if an online service closed, the content shouldn’t be in anyway tied to a specific service at that point.

    I also have to join the commentary on Google going for non-DRM content, it just makes sense and there is evidence now pointing towards it. Let’s wait and see.

  8. Cause within 2 months Google will probably unveil a service that provides unlimited access to independant content, tv episodes and movies at full quality for a fixed monthly fee, and the whole of it without DRM. So I guess us users of the DRM Google Video could be offered a free access for a few months to that service before the expiration of our current $50 Google Checkout bonus ($50 of Google Checkout bonus is the compensation I got, according to my usage of Google Video’s DRM).

    If each independant video producer starts charging people using credit cards on their own sites, this is not a business model that is going to work. We need the big coorporation or the government to set a standard for web content monetization. Currently there are none that work as far as I know.

    Google can launch a $5 monthly Youtube Gold access, one that provides access to all the originally uploaded qualities, full length content, tv episodes and movies. As well as DRM-free one-click pay-per-view transactions.

  9. I am only surprised it was just killed. It should have been stopped long time back no one asks about it. Still also, I find it weird Google enforce Google Checkout $20 bonus available for 2 months only. What harm could it mean if they make it for 1 year for example?

  10. Richard Wakefield

    @charbax: “When and how will independant video producers have a business model for releasing videos on the Internet?”

    Probably about the same time any other product producers are able to figure out a business model for releasing their products on the Internet. I hear some people have toyed with getting a website and accepting credit card payment in exchange for delivery of goods, but it’s probably just a rumour. I guess you’ll just have to wait for some megacorp to come along and handhold you.

  11. This is another reason why DRM sucks

    You purchase content and the content service shuts down and you are left with content that cant play any more and you have no recourse because of shrinkwrap ELUAs .

    Peer Impact and Wurld Media sold recently to ROO media and ROO decided it only wanted Wurld’s LX Systems Hybrid p2p CDN technology so they killed off Peer Impact without warning the user base .

    I’m glad there are tools like FiarUse4WM to strip DRM and so users not subject to the whims of a corporation,

  12. I find it absurd people are defending google because they think that they’re going to go away from DRM. The fact remains that people purchased these videos with full intention of being able to watch them at later dates. What Google is doing is stealing, plain and simple which better fits their distaste for being evil. I’m sick of this image of Google being so pure and progressive, they’re no better than any other company, and this proves the point. It’s just like the FCC deal, saying what the terms will be but not giving any thought to the other party’s concerns. I for one am done with this pseudo-saint company.

  13. Google must have some DRM-free video and music content deals in the works, and thus to be compatible with that anti-DRM policy, Google simply decided to stop doing the DRM video over at Google Video, which was the only type of DRM that the whole Google company had released.

    Most probably that Google is going to try to provide monetization for video and music distribution without any usage of DRM.

  14. Of course, since this is about Google Video, this is very significant.

    When and how will independant video producers have a business model for releasing videos on the Internet? What does Google have in store? Is it to provide Google Checkout as a payments solution for an open market of online video distributing technologies?

    How and when will Google Video and Youtube provide the platform for independant and major movie and music producers?

    Does this following clue provide a reason to think Google is preparing a DRM-free video and music content distribution solution?