YouTube (s GOOG) is about to relaunch its VOD efforts with content from a number of major Hollywood studios, according to a report from The Wrap’s Sharon Waxman.
The video site secured content from Sony Pictures, (s SNE) Universal (s GE) and Warner Bros., (s TWX) Waxman reported last night, adding that the new content partnerships would be announced as early as this week. Peter Kafka over at AllThingsD confirmed the story late last night, writing that his sources had told him the opening of the revamped store was “weeks, not months” away.
Of course, YouTube already has a movie store, complete with content from Lionsgate (s lgf) and other indies, that it has been offering as VOD rentals for $1 to $4. The site opened the store a year ago, but consumers largely chose to ignore the offering, despite some well-known movies. We reported last May that even movies like Saw and 3:10 to Yuma only received a few dozen paid plays in the first week.
Demand doesn’t seem to be substantially higher a year later, as a rental title like the Alec Baldwin-starring indie comedy Lymelife is still at 184 paid views. Some better-known titles, such as Saw, have attracted equally unimpressive four-digit play counts, according to numbers obtained by NewTeeVee.
Will that change once the majors sign on? YouTube seems to hope so, but we’ve been questioning the general appeal of pay-per-view online VOD in the past; the move toward such a model seems especially counter-intuitive at a time where even longtime VOD proponents like Best Buy’s (s BBUY) CinemaNow service and Walmart’s (s WMT) VUDU reportedly work on subscription offerings to compete with Netflix’s (s NFLX) hugely successful service.