Brett_Tabke - 12:40 pm on Apr 26, 2011 (gmt 0)
YouTube will imminently launch a movie-on-demand service charging users to stream mainstream Hollywood movies off the world’s largest video sharing site, TheWrap has learned.
The new service means a full-bore challenge to Apple’s iTunes service – currently the most powerful player in paid video streaming -- and a welcome new revenue stream for Hollywood as home entertainment revenues continue their steep decline.
The service may start as early as this week or next, and is expected to be announced soon by YouTube.
Major studios including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Brothers and Universal have licensed their movies for the new service, as have numerous independent studios, including Lionsgate and the library-rich Kino Lorber, according to movie executives with knowledge of the deals in place.
YouTube has been laboring to bring all the major Hollywood studios on board before announcing it, according to one executive involved in the deal. But so far Paramount, Fox and Disney have declined to join.
(Update 7:37 p.m. PST) YouTube, which had earlier declined to comment for the story, issued a statement after this story was published, pointing out that it has rented movies for a year, while declining to comment on the broader initiative it is about to launch with the major studios on board.