Rumor has it that Google is working on a possible deal with Hollywood studios that would give YouTube a streaming rental store. The idea makes sense, as YouTube has, far and away, the biggest audience for online video, and Google needs to monetize in other ways besides advertising. But, if a YouTube rental system is going to work, it has to be done right. Here are five ways YouTube actually might persuade me to pay for its content.
1. Let me watch on TV, please
Try to watch premium content on the TV-optimized YouTube XL, such as classic episodes of Star Trek, and you'll come up empty. That's because content owners don't like the idea of people using YouTube on their televisions to replace cable and movie purchases. But if I'm going to pay for a video, there should be an easy way play it on YouTube XL.
2. Give me a reason to stream
I'm not convinced that paying for a streaming video file is better than buying a download. It's nice to be able to watch instantly, but what happens if my Internet shorts out, or if YouTube is running slow? Perhaps YouTube rentals should have a longer viewing period than its downloadable competitors, or some sort of money-back guarantee when the tubes are clogged.
3. Undercut iTunes
Why not? I know the Wall Street Journal story says YouTube will likely stick with the standard market price of $4 per video, but it's an inferior service. A potentially blurry, choppy, and low-resolution video isn't worth the same price as something you can download from iTunes and take with you for, say, air travel. Knock down the price and I'll consider it.
4. Don't kill the free stuff
Right now, YouTube has a selection of free movies, including Supersize Me and Night of the Living Dead. These are generally old releases that aren't wildly popular, so there should be no reason to squash them when the paid stuff comes around. Free movies could even be a great promotional tool for related paid content.
5. Don't kill the community
When YouTube started introducing TV and movies from networks and studios, the "Broadcast Yourself" community was wary that they'd be snuffed out. So far, that hasn't happened, as user-uploaded content remains front-and-center on the site. Please, YouTube, don't change that if there becomes a little extra money to be made.
This story, "Five ways YouTube can make rentals work" was originally published by PCWorld.