YouTube is planning to rent movies for $3.99 a pop.
Nothing special about that idea -- you can rent movies from iTunes for the same price. But YouTube's idea seems to be to distribute movies that don't already have
Distribution is tough these days. It is insanely hard to get your movie into Sundance, yet most of the movies at Sundance won't get distribution. (Which is why you might not want to finance your picture with credit cards.) YouTube, apparently, proposes to let filmmakers upload their movies whether they've got theatrical or DVD distribution or not.
This fits right into the YouTube business model, of course. And they won't be losing any money. Their cost is virtually nil.
The question is whether consumers really want more choice. I rarely see movies at film festivals for the very reason that they're much spottier than movies that have made it to theaters. And YouTube distribution won't eliminate the need to market your movie. People still have to hear that it's worth $3.99.
Maybe what's needed is a "taster" price: you can rent the first 30 minutes of a movie for a buck. The rest costs you $3. Anyone who's into the movie will be happy to pay for it. But you don't have to worry you'll pay $3.99 for a stinker, because you can bail out and it will cost you only a buck. On the other hand 30 minutes is long enough for viewers to figure out if they're liking a movie even if it gets off to a slow start.
I can see people in airports now, browsing movies on their iPads, downloading a couple for the flight. Assuming, of course, that in the future you won't have to fly gadgetless and naked.
Labels: distribution technology