Google fans UBB fire with movie rentals

31 Aug

Just when all was quiet on the usage-based internet billing front, here comes Google to stir the pot again. The company on Wednesday launched YouTube movie rentals in Canada, which should make a nation of already prodigious online video consumers even more ravenous devourers of bandwidth.

Google launched YouTube movie rentals in the United States on a limited basis in January 2010, then got serious about it a few months ago by adding thousands of titles. The Canadian launch is its first international expansion, according to Google Canada spokesman Aaron Brindle.

As with all similar services available in Canada, this one comes with a bunch of caveats. The selection will be fairly limited, with just over a thousand movies from the catalogs of Warner Bros. and Universal, and Canadian studios E1, Mongrel and Alliance Atlantis. The films are also only offered in standard definition, as per the studios’ wishes, and will come at a $1 premium to what they cost in the U.S.: $4.99 for new releases and $3.99 for older titles.

Bindle said Google is following industry standard on costs, where studios set the wholesale price and have some say in the ultimate retail price. The bonus for Canadians, though, is that they get their rentals for 48 hours as opposed to the 24 Americans get.

Despite all that, it’s reasonable to expect YouTube movies will still meet with a degree of success in Canada, simply because Canadians are apparently among the biggest users of the site in the world. Google’s offering therefore has tremendous ease of access to customers who are already happily using other parts of the service. That’s brand recognition and a point of sale that other competing services, whether it’s Xbox Live, PlayStation Network, Rogers On Demand Online, Shaw Movie Club and even Netflix, don’t necessarily have.

If that’s so, it’s also reasonable to expect more noise on the usage-based billing and net neutrality fronts. If Canadians are already chugging huge amounts of data, as the likes of Cisco has found, then movie rentals on the most popular online service in the country is only going to add fuel to the fire.

Satellite, cable and IPTV companies, who are also internet providers, are especially not going to like this one bit, since Google is now in direct competition with their on-demand businesses. They’ve already fought back against competing services with throttling, usage caps and political lobbying. Will they take the entry of such a powerhouse company into one of their biggest cash cows lying down? Not bloody likely.


Posted by on August 31, 2011 in Google, internet, net neutrality


3 responses to “Google fans UBB fire with movie rentals

  1. Myles

    September 1, 2011 at 8:51 am

    So tired of this pricing stupidity. Based on the 20% or 25% additional cost of the movies in Canada versus the USA, I would not use the service.

  2. Christian Beijer

    September 1, 2011 at 11:15 am

    I’m with you Miles… Especially since our dollar has been stronger for quit a while now… It makes it even worse!

  3. moosebump

    September 1, 2011 at 12:24 pm

    I don’t think this does anything to stoke the UBB fire. Unlimited streaming services are one thing, rental movie services are another. 2 movies costs $10 which is already more than what you pay for an entire month of unlimited streaming on Netflix. With this service most people are going to hit their budget on content spend long before they have an issue with caps.

    Netflix says a typical user at 30 hours of viewing uses 30GB (assuming you don’t use the lower bitrate stream). Say your cap is 60GB that means you can view 60hours before hitting your cap. The typical movie is 2hrs so with Youtube you could rent 30 movies (assuming the same bitrate) before hitting your cap. 30 x $5 = $150. How many people who are unwilling to buy a $10/month upgrade and higher cap for their broadband plan are going to spend $150/month on movie rentals?

    Strangely you neglect to mention Apple’s iTunes – maybe because it doesn’t fit the argument that the other services lack of brand recognition. And seriously – Microsoft Xbox and Sony Playstation don’t have brand recognition? The proof of Netflix brand recognition is its 9m trip from Zero subs to 1 million.

    This looks like an inferior version of iTunes via Apple TV which at least offers HD rentals and at this point is easier to get on your bigscreen TV. Apple also has pretty good “bran

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