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YouTube in Discussions to Offer Movie Rentals From Major Studios

The Wall Street Journal reports (subscription required) that YouTube is in discussions with several major movie studios to bring streaming movie rentals to the service.

YouTube is talking to Lions Gate Entertainment Corp., Sony Corp., Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc. and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros. about charging for new titles on the existing YouTube site. In some cases, these titles might be available on the site on the same day that they come out on DVD.

Sources note that movies would likely be priced at approximately $3.99, comparable to movie rentals through Apple's iTunes Store. While details of the potential agreements reportedly vary from studio to studio, some agreements could allow for free, ad-supported distribution of movies.

It is unclear when the service would be publicly launched, although YouTube is reportedly planning a three-month testing period involving about 10,000 Google employees. That testing period was to begin early this month, but longer-than-expected negotiations with the movie studios involved have pushed the start of testing back by an undetermined amount.

Apple introduced iTunes movie rentals in the U.S. in January 2008 and has added offerings in several other countries since that time. High-definition movie rentals debuted on the Apple TV at the same time and were extended on a limited basis to the iTunes Store in March of this year.