The evolution of YouTube continues...
Following such 2009 innovations as High Definition, terrestrial television, Premium sections and even 3D along with less well received introductions such as more invasive advertising, the world's most popular streaming video site has now added another string to its bow: movie rentals.
Speaking on its official blog today, the YouTube team proclaimed: "we are excited today to announce our partnership with the Sundance Film Festival to make five films from the 2010 and 2009 festivals available for rent for US users on YouTube starting this Friday and running through Sunday, January 31". Trailers of all five films - The Cove, One Too Many Mornings (above), Homewrecker, Children of Invention and Bass Ackwards - have been posted to the site.
"In addition to these five films, a small collection of rental videos from other US partners across different industries, including health and education, will be made available in the weeks ahead," it added.
YouTube admits this new feature is in its "early days", but plans to also "invite a small group of partners across other industries, in addition to independent film, to participate in this new option." It will allow film makers to keep 100 per cent of their rights and consumers will pay through Google Checkout - naturally.
None of this greatly benefits the UK at this stage, but it does indicate YouTube's increasing focus on profitability. Besides, if YouTube can sign the necessary deals there is likely to be no-one who can stand-up to its brand recognition other than iTunes. Game on...