Does No One Remember That Google Tried And Failed To 'Rent' Videos Online In The Past?

from the short-memory-syndrome dept

The tech press is excitedly discussing the fact that YouTube is looking to work with movie studios to allow movie rentals, with many talking up how this is a way for Google to put in place a new business model for YouTube. But here's the thing: everyone seems to forget that, back when Google first launched Google Video (which was a competitor to YouTube before Google bought YouTube and merged the two), it was based on this very idea. You could "buy" videos on the site to watch. And what happened? It failed pretty miserably. People just weren't interested. Instead, they flocked to YouTube to get all that free content and community, and Google quietly changed around Google Videos' entire business model and concept, and then eventually realized that it couldn't compete, and so it bought YouTube.

So why would people suddenly be willing to pay when something that sounds nearly identical a few years ago failed to get much interest at all? Perhaps culture or technology has changed (it's easier to watch downloaded movies on a TV screen, certainly). But, I have to admit to being rather skeptical of this as a big business opportunity. We've already seen this movie, and it didn't end well.
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Filed Under: content, movies, rent, videos, youtube
Companies: google, youtube

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  1. identicon
    Richard, 4 Sep 2009 @ 3:42am

    For nearly 20 years I have seen a constant stream of wishful predictions theat "movies on demand" was going to be the BIG moneyspinner for cable companies, phone companies etc etc.

    What people forget is that in the late 60's the film industry was dead on its feet - allegedly killed by TV. The big films of the day were things like easy rider, midnight cowboy - cult films really and certainly not mass market family entertainment.

    The industry was rescued by a number of things - the re-invention of the blockbuster with high production values - shown mainly in the largest cinemas (small local screens were closing down anyway) - the acceptance that you could let recent films be shown on TV (during my childhood in the 60s - and even into the early 70s in the UK you never saw a film under 20 years old on TV and Disney only allowed "taster" programs of its cartoon to be shown - and then only at the school holidays) and yes the VCR also played a part.

    Of course the movie industry thought it was the blockbusters that did it and carried on with the essence of the old mentality intact.

    To my mind the blockbusters are now looking rather tired - maybe that strand has become played out. Perhaps the hollywood film industry should fold - for artistic reasons not just tech/finance ones. Things have a natural lifespan. No one much builds Great Cathedrals anymore - mostly we have enough already. No -one writes classical symphonies these days - the canon is regarded as complete - most new work would tend to look derivative.

    Why should I bother to use my computer to rent movies - there are plenty of ways to get them already and frankly I've had enough of them by and large.

    Why should new media just be seen as a way to sell an old product. New wine for new wineskins!

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