HomeStreamingYouTube launches movie rentals - but no HD?

YouTube launches movie rentals – but no HD?

If you haven’t noticed YouTube has added movie rentals to its online services. One might wonder why it took so long, being that YouTube has lead the streaming video revolution. They dabbled in rentals last year with titles from the Sundance Film Festival, but now they’ve gone full out — offering major Hollywood movies such as “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1,” “Green Hornet,” and “Inception.”

Movies seemed to be consistently priced according to release date. For example “Inside Job” (2010) is $3.99 while “3:10 To Yuma” (2007) is $2.99. However, YouTube isn’t indicating video quality before purchase.

In fact, you don’t even see any quality options (including in the Terms of Service) until you actually purchase the movie. For $3.99, we rented “Inside Job” and weren’t expecting 1080p given the price point but had to choose from 240p, 360p and 480p. (Although trailers are offered in various resolutions including 720p and 1080p.)

We would expect YouTube, (who was even doing 4k testing last year) would offer more resolutions AND disclose them before purchase. Apparently, YouTube is using up all its bandwidth on fake blooper videos.

There are quite a few “Free Movies” as well, which is refreshing. “Super Size Me,” “Dig!” and even “Ghostbusters.” We started watching “The Freshman” (1990) which starts with a quick commercial for Blu-ray but then gets right into the movie. Although, again no video resolution options were given.

“Renting” a movie from YouTube gets you a 24-hour pass to be started within 30-days. YouTube has also integrated Rotten Tomatoes user review ratings for each movie, for better or for worse.

Jeff Chabot
Jeff has a background in photography, video and television production. He writes about technology, broadcasting, home theater, and digital entertainment.


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