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Is YouTube Launching a Netflix Competitor? 162

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the i-see-what-you-did-there dept.
RedEaredSlider writes "YouTube could become the latest to offer a movie rental service, challenging streaming sites such as Netflix. Google is lining up deals with major Hollywood studios in order to launch the service. An anonymous executive at a studio that has signed on said Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Lionsgate and Universal have all licensed their movies to the service. Not everyone is on board — Paramount, Fox and Disney declined to join."
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Is YouTube Launching a Netflix Competitor?

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  • Good luck with that (Score:5, Interesting)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @12:29PM (#35943378)

    Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers, Lionsgate and Universal have all licensed their movies to the service.

    How many movies? In what release window? will they be in HD? Will my xbox/PS3/blu-ray player support their streaming? Will they mail physical copies of movies that aren't available for streaming to my mailbox within 24-hours? What's the monthly fee?

    Until these and many more questions are answered, I wouldn't call them a Netflix competitor at all. Netflix has established themselves as the guys to beat. And even if you can match their streaming service, you're damn sure going to have a tough time beating their mail service. And their mail service is still where I get most of my movies from them (since streaming is still only available for a fraction of their library). The fact that they're still missing three major studios doesn't give me much confidence that they're going to represent any real threat to Netflix. Blockbuster, Walmart, Apple, Amazon, and Hulu have all tried (often with half-assed efforts) to beat Netflix before. So you had better bring your A-game if you hope to do any better than they did.

    Of course, they will decidely have an upper hand over Netflix in offering short videos of guys getting kicked in the groin and whiney teenagers crying about their tough suburban lives on webcams. I'll leave if for others to judge if that's an advantage or disadvantage.

    • by oakgrove (845019)

      How many movies? In what release window? will they be in HD? Will my xbox/PS3/blu-ray player support their streaming? Will they mail physical copies of movies that aren't available for streaming to my mailbox within 24-hours? What's the monthly fee?

      Until these and many more questions are answered, I wouldn't call them a Netflix competitor at all.

      So, you think that in order for someone to compete, they must clone the incumbent? I'll bet Blockbuster, Tower Records, Hollywood Video, et al wished that were true.

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        Since that's who the article indicated they were intended to compete with, then that's who they must be compared to, of course.

        • by oakgrove (845019)
          You weren't just doing a simple comparison. You were implying that if this Youtube thing doesn't have $NETFLIX_FEATURE_1, $NETFLIX_FEATURE_2, and $NETFLIX_FEATURE_3, then Google is not competing with Netflix. That's just laughable.
          • by elrous0 (869638) *

            If you were going to compete with someone, would you just ignore all their best features?

            • by oakgrove (845019)
              That's not what you said. There is a difference between being aware of competitive realities and slavishly aping somebody else's product whilst maybe adding +1 to the end of each checkbox. You implied that if Google doesn't do the latter, they are not "competing".
    • by IICV (652597)

      Will they mail physical copies of movies that aren't available for streaming to my mailbox within 24-hours?

      We have a Netflix subscription, the cheapest one, and we've just kept the most recent disk without returning it for a couple of months - there's nothing in our subscription queue that's worth the trip to the mailbox.

      However, we watch things on Netflix Instant all the time; it's much more convenient than having to deal with physical disks (which occasionally just don't work in my wife's MacBook or the M

      • by h4rr4r (612664)

        How can the DVDs not work on Myth?
        I have never seen one fail in my linux boxes, my home is linux and solaris only.

        • by IICV (652597)

          I have no idea. It might be that the DVD drives are failing - my wife got a penny in the DVD drive on her MacBook, and the MythTV box is using one that's been recycled through several other computers.

        • by b0bby (201198)

          How can the DVDs not work on Myth?
          I have never seen one fail in my linux boxes, my home is linux and solaris only.

          Crappy DVD drive. I have one that I'm too lazy to replace, since I only use that machine once a month or so to watch movies from disc, and some of them do work...

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        I do the same. But there are a LOT of movies I want to see that just aren't available for streaming (or only available for certain time periods). I like that Netflix allows me to see everything in some form, even if it's not available for streaming.

    • How many prime time shows? Will they be have current seasons of all major studios? Will they play through my cable box? Will they support TV Guide listings?

      Until these and many other questions are answered, I wouldn't call Netflix a competitor to cable companies at all...

      (/sarcasm)

      Seriously, you listed Blockbuster? Did you write that comment 3 years ago or travel through a time warp? A back alley Betamax rental booth is a real threat to Blockbuster. And Walmart, Apple, and Amazon? WTF, man? These aren't ev

      • by elrous0 (869638) *

        The article indicated that this was intended as a competitor with Netflix, and so that's what I compared it to. And yes, those other services aren't in the same league as Netflix. They're just examples of other services that have attempted at some point to compete with Netflix and failed.

    • I have Netflix, love it, but it is massively overvalued IMO. Its like a dotcom with hardly any capitol. Google, Yahoo, Apple, Amazon, or any of the big players could render Netflix worthless overnight if they were able to agree to deals with any of the major studios for streaming newly released movies. Netflix streaming is awesome and I love it, but to be honest the selection is pathetic, there is hardly anything on there that is new, and nothing on there is a blockbuster title and new. The day the stud

  • by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @12:29PM (#35943394) Journal

    Is Youtube's business model really competing with Netflix? The 24-hour $2.99 rentals look and feel a lot more like Amazon's video rental service (excluding Prime) than it does Netflix's all-you-can-eat model. Frankly, I think this model is kind of doomed from the get-go. Amazon and Apple have tried this kind of video rental service, and while I'm sure it's somewhat of a success, it has done absolutely nothing to stop Netflix from gaining market share and subscribers. Even Amazon realizes that the future of video services lie in all-you-can-eat services like Netflix rather than per-title rentals. And, frankly, I think that's what most consumers nowadays want anyway. Unless Youtube is going to actually go toward a more Netflix-like model, or find a model that's even more appealing to consumers, I can't see it as being terribly successful.

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      Is Youtube's business model really competing with Netflix? The 24-hour $2.99 rentals look and feel a lot more like Amazon's video rental service (excluding Prime) than it does Netflix's all-you-can-eat model.

      They can switch up any time, provided they have agreements in place with the copyright holders. Until they have a sizable catalog an à la carte approach is more appealing to me. There are probably numerous ways a new service could distinguish itself. For example, if I could preload the entire movie in 1080p and I could seek fore and aft then I would be pretty interested in a 72-hour rental that I could download overnight. The long period is to permit me to not watch it on the night I thought I was goin

      • by Desler (1608317)

        Until they have a sizable catalog an à la carte approach is more appealing to me.

        So you can spend more for less?

        • Or less for less. If I can get a movie for less cost than it would be on, say, iTunes, but with a longer rental period (have a toddler, so it often takes me three evenings to finish watching a movie), and faster than Netflix (maybe it's only available on DVD so I'd have to wait for it) or Blockbuster (have to run out, again a hassle with the toddler), then it might be worthwhile.

          Of course, balance that against the hassle of having to think about all the variables and it might not work out. What would b
      • by Creepy (93888)

        I would agree - Netflix's closest competitor is Comcast, which also has the pay-as-you-go model. Netflix owns 61% of the market, Comcast 8% (and Comcast is second!). OTOH, YouTube is a close second to Netflix for volume of US internet traffic (20% to 19% to Facebook's 17% - not that Facebook is also trying to get into the market), so the infrastructure is there.

        OTOH, it depends on the movies - Netflix only streams a limited catalog, and while that is plenty to keep my nieces and nephews busy when they visit

    • $2.99 can compete against netflix in two ways. First netflix does not get streaming disks as early. At best they get physical disks at the same time. if you calculate how may physical disks you can run through in a month, then this is perhaps about 2 a week or less for mere mortals. Sure you can possibly get more if you are reasonably diligent about watching and returning them quickly. But most people don't watch that many or return them that quickly. so $2.99 is a fine deal to get what you want.
      the

      • by migla (1099771)

        >Sure you can possibly get more if you are reasonably diligent about watching and returning them quickly.

        Rip or burn isos to hdd and watch the movies when you have time. Timeshifting is legal, isn't it? ;)

    • by timeOday (582209)

      Even Amazon realizes that the future of video services lie in all-you-can-eat services like Netflix rather than per-title rentals.

      No way, not for recent movie releases.

    • by tompaulco (629533)
      The 24-hour $2.99 rentals look and feel a lot more like Amazon's video rental service (excluding Prime) than it does Netflix's all-you-can-eat model.

      Consumer of video services: "Pay as you go video is a dead service model. We demand all-you-can-eat pricing."

      Consumer of cable TV: "Broadcast pricing is a dead service model. We demand a-la-carte pricing."


      Service providers: "???"
  • if not then major FAIL. Netflix streams HD to real TV's that real people watch. Youtube seems to be aimed at people watching short videos while they are bored. some of the TV implementations are OK like on LG TV's. the Playstation version of youtube is crap

    • by bhagwad (1426855)
      You realize it's dirt easy to just connect your laptop to your TV with just one cable?
      • You realize it's dirt easy to just connect your laptop to your TV with just one cable?

        Three problems:

        1. Only if it's a laptop, not a desktop PC. A lot of people don't have the PC close enough to a TV, nor are they willing to buy a PC just for the TV cabinet.
        2. Not if it's an SDTV. Most PCs don't come with S-Video or composite outputs. There was a time when most laptops had S-Video, but most people I met didn't realize one could turn S-Video into composite with an appropriate cable, and besides, laptops have started to omit S-Video in favor of HDMI.
        3. I realize this, but I'm in no way a representati
        • by h4rr4r (612664)

          HDMI can go hundreds of feet, so desktop is fine.

          SDTVs are on the way out, you can't even buy them anymore.

          The general public are morons and will buy a google TV or another set top box for this.

          The sports fan living inside will be glad to hear about OTA TV, bars and that he could go to live sporting events with the money he is saving.

          • HDMI can go hundreds of feet, so desktop is fine.

            Unless your landlord doesn't want you pulling HDMI cable through the wall from the PC room to the TV room. Input (such as changing channels) becomes a problem too at that point.

            SDTVs are on the way out, you can't even buy them anymore.

            Cheapskates like some members of my family are more likely to use an SDTV until it breaks and then replace it with an SDTV from a pawn shop or charity shop than to buy a new HDTV. "You don't need the sharper picture, Matthew; you can see your game just fine on the tube TV."

            The general public are morons and will buy a google TV or another set top box for this.

            More likely they'll just stick with Netflix, which their exis

            • by h4rr4r (612664)

              Unless your landlord doesn't want you pulling HDMI cable through the wall from the PC room to the TV room.

              In any sane state he can't do a damn thing about it. So long as you fix the holes when you leave. Input is done via wireless, bluetooth works over these distances.

              Cheapskates like some members of my family are more likely to use an SDTV until it breaks and then replace it with an SDTV from a pawn shop or charity shop than to buy a new HDTV. "You don't need the sharper picture, Matthew; you can see your

      • by hawguy (1600213)

        You realize it's dirt easy to just connect your laptop to your TV with just one cable?

        You're overestimating the technical knowledge of at least 80% of consumers -- I'd never be able to talk Dad through hooking up a VGA cable between his TV and laptop and then get him to use the computer to watch video. And of course, a single cable only gets him video since his laptop doesn't support HDMI out, he'll have to find a 3.5mm to RCA cable to get audio. And he'll want a remote control, so that's one more item he has to buy and set up.

        I sent him a Roku and he was up and running in an hour.

        Youtube w

      • by alen (225700)

        yes i have HDMI on my laptop but i'm not going to take my laptop to my TV just to rent a movie. it means i can't use my laptop in the meantime. what if my kid wants to watch something and i have to VPN into work?

        my X-box and PS3 stream netflix. apple TV does the same as well as have a rental service built in. PS3 has Vudu built in to rent. x-box has zune. Internet enabled TV's have Vudu and cinemanow and amazon. internet enabled blu ray players as well. and my cable box has a limited selection of rentals

        unl

        • it means i can't use my laptop in the meantime. what if my kid wants to watch something and i have to VPN into work?

          Then hook up your kid's homework laptop.

          my X-box and PS3 stream netflix.

          Do you just happily skip over any film that others have recommended to you that is available somewhere else but not on Netflix?

          wait for the domain time out because i'm home

          This is not typical. Most home laptops aren't on an Active Directory domain; instead, they're joined to a workgroup because Windows Home Premium doesn't support joining an Active Directory domain.

          these days a laptop is only good for holding some media, playing some games if you need to and work. 95% of the time it's off at home

          Most of the time, my laptop is on sleep, not off.

          wait for start up apps to load, it's almost 10 minutes

          This startup time is also not typical even for Windows, as I understand it. What sort of application

          • by hawguy (1600213)

            Do you just happily skip over any film that others have recommended to you that is available somewhere else but not on Netflix?

            I know I do -- I have 100 movies in my disk rental queue and 50 in my instant watch queue (which I use much more often, maybe a 5:1 or 10:1 ratio of instant views to disk). If a particular movie is not available on Netflix, I have plenty of others to watch.

            If someone recommends a new release, I just add it to my queue and eventually it will become available. There are a few obscure movies that people have recommended that were in the Netflix database but not currently available for rental - I've just kept t

      • by b0bby (201198)

        It's enough of a pain in the ass that I ended up buying an Atom-based nettop machine to leave permanently attached, with a remote. Most people aren't going to do that. Plus, the firmware based netflix clients are very smooth and nice to use in my experience. I use the one in my blu-ray player all the time. It's just easier than the pc thing, and I like my pc thing.

    • HDTVs have HDMI and VGA inputs, and PCs have VGA and lately HDMI outputs. Therefore, anything that works on a PC works on an HDTV. The rest is just a matter of making sure the UI has a 10-foot mode, which isn't that different from mobile UI. See YouTube XL.

      Netflix streams HD to real TV's that real people watch.

      It appears you're referring to the claim that most PC owners haven't bothered to run an HDMI cable between the PC and the TV. Even in that case, don't Apple TV and Google TV get YouTube?

      the Playstation version of youtube is crap

      Did you expect more from Sony?

      • I don't expect the stereotypical Grandma to plug her PC into the TV. There are even people my age (21) and younger who can't be bothered to hook up a DVD player to a TV. Yes, it's dead simple, but tell them that. To them it's recalibrating the field matrix converter to correct for quantum leptonium fields to enable maximum warp drive efficiency.

    • >> Netflix streams HD to real TV's that real people watch.

      Of course. Clearly, Google/Youtube will have to rely on fake TV's (sic) and fake people.

    • I already watch YouTube on my Internet-connected Samsung HDTV. Several blu-ray players have this option, too. So your concern over a major FAIL is unfounded. It's not the easiest user interface, but it does the job. When my 4 year old asks me how forklifts are made, it's nice to be able to press a few buttons and have a video ready to go. I could pull out the laptop and do the same thing, I guess, but sometimes TV just seems like preferred screen. Especially since he is likely to be playing elsewhere in the
    • by MBGMorden (803437)

      Netflix does that with agreements that it has reached with various set-top box providers. I'm sure that Google could negotiate similar deals.

      Alternatively, they do kinda sorta have a set-top box offering that I'm sure would support this:

      http://www.google.com/tv/ [google.com]

      • by alen (225700)

        ahh yes, the $300 box with the vanishing features. cool idea to stream TV until the networks blocked it after seeing google news in action

  • by EmagGeek (574360) <gterich&aol,com> on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @12:52PM (#35943682) Journal

    I can see it now.

    Netflix will have an exclusive agreement with one group of studios.

    Google will have an exclusive agreement with another group of studios.

    Amazon will have an exclusive agreement with yet another group.

    The result will be that you'll have to buy all three services to see all the movies you want... I can't wait.

    • by spikenerd (642677)
      Exactly. Until now, Google was one of the few companies that had not climbed into bed with media. Look what that did to Sony. First it will be, "Subscribe now for premium quality search results!". Next, we'll get, "We work hard to protect you from unsafe unfiltered search results!" Pretty soon it will be, "We need a tax on the Internet and several unfair laws to subsidize our dying business model. The Internet is just too important to fail!"
    • by xMrFishx (1956084)
      ...and it still won't exist in Europe.

      If that form of media appeared over here, it would be interesting to see if it would hold up to anti-competitive scrutiny. I'm already quite convinced the movie companies operate as a cartel if you look close enough at their consumer pricing, yet no one has picked them up for it (I don't think).
    • by dwandy (907337)
      ...and PirateBay will still have an agreement with none of them, yet somehow will be the best option for getting content. huh.
  • by argStyopa (232550) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @01:16PM (#35943932) Journal

    Disney not joining is meaningless and unsurprising.
    Disney is nearly Luddite when it comes to distribution technologies - they refuse EVERYTHING at first, and are only dragged in later when the cash pile becomes too big to ignore.

    DIVX (the original crappy planned-expiring rental disc technology, not the codec)
    Didn't they even refuse to put their films on DVD at first, out of piracy fears?

    • by nedlohs (1335013)

      Didn't they even refuse to put their films on DVD at first, out of piracy fears?

      No.

    • Um... some disney titles were released in divx
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DIVX#List_of_films_available_on_DIVX [wikipedia.org]

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Dunno, but at least one thing Disney was infamous for was playing with availability - they know that your kids are only in the right age for their movies for a short time so they'd choke and pump supply, instead of going into the bargain bin they'd disappear - and they wouldn't be back until your kid is a little too old. Pretty nice trick to stress out parents into buying and to pay full price. I think with piracy going up that's more or less died out though, if it's not in the store it's always on TPB...

  • by HerculesMO (693085) on Tuesday April 26, 2011 @01:18PM (#35943964)

    But YouTube's "buffering" and Flash problems are worse for me than Netflix has *ever* been in streaming content. I can watch a movie in HD and if my connection starts to suck, the movie starts streaming at a lower quality in order to keep playing. Flash can't do that, and YouTube can't do that.

    So no, I think that until we are all on HTML5 (no time soon) or until Google decides to use Silverlight to do the streaming, Netflix has no competition in this space.

    • Hulu's service detects bandwidth and will auto-adjust the video quality while a video is playing. I've seen it go from 720p to 288p, then to 480p, as the poor connection I was on fluctuated. It was a seamless experience. The absence of Silverlight is the exact reason I opened this story. Unfortunately, I don't have the option to use Silverlight on my devices. I'd be a Netflix subscriber if I could. I've seen plenty of comments above (especially the per movie rental cost) that are good reasons to not sign u
      • by Yvan256 (722131)

        You only need Silverlight on Windows and Mac. Otherwise, the Netflix client is either built-in or downloadable as a separate application (iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad, PS3 and Wii come to mind). At this point I wouldn't even surprise me to learn that a Netflix client is available for the Nintendo 3DS.

    • Southparkstudios.com has been auto-adjusting video quality with flash for quite some time now.

    • by CSMatt (1175471)

      But YouTube's "buffering" and Flash problems are worse for me than Netflix has *ever* been in streaming content. I can watch a movie in HD and if my connection starts to suck, the movie starts streaming at a lower quality in order to keep playing. Flash can't do that, and YouTube can't do that.

      Comedy Central's player does this, and it's in Flash.

  • I'd gladly pay someone to stream the titles that Netflix still has on disc only. It's 2011 and when I decide I want to watch something I should be able to watch it NOW. When Netflix offered a lower rate to go streaming only I dumped the disc faster than you can say "Why would anyone wait for the postal service?".

    I hope that this lights a fire under Netflix's collective butts to get more of their library available for streaming.

    And until it does, I'd be glad to send money to someone that will stream these

  • After investing plenty of money in blu-ray players that stream netflix, a PS3 that can stream netflix and a couple of roku boxes that can stream netflix, I'm not about to spend more. Netflix's big coup, I think,is that they very quickly got it on a ton of gadgets that connect directly to your TV. It's going to be hard to compete if you have a dedicated device because the difference in content just isn't compelling enough for a lot of people to switch AND buy more gadgets.

    Now you might see a channel on RO
    • by city (1189205)
      On most netflix blu-ray players there is already a youtube app. I never use it, but i know its on my LG blu-ray player.
      • by yodleboy (982200)
        yeah no LG here, I have a samsung w/ netflix and blockbuster and some other brand with netflix and vudu, whatever that is.
    • by Yvan256 (722131)

      Not only that, but they were able to have Netflix on the new Apple TV, which makes direct competition to the iTunes Store on Apple's own device. They were also able to push it on the Xbox360 which competes with the Zune store (or whatever they call it).

  • Youtube can't handle streaming shitty homemade movies without ...buffering.... and ..buffering.. and ..buffering..

    I can't wait to see how they handle feature-length films where quality matters.
  • I can't watch streaming movies from Netflix.

    I have watched movies from hulu.com and youtube.com. If they can get a similar selection of movies to netflix, as nice a site and if they can do it at roughly the same price I would quit netflix.

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