MGM Greenlights 600 Movies for YouTube Rental

9:22 AM PST 04/16/2012 by Alex Ben Block
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The studio is the latest to make older library movies available on YouTube and Google Play for online transactions; meanwhile, the sale and rental of physical DVDs continues to decline.

Metro Goldwyn Mayer has become the latest studio to partner with YouTube and Google Play to make movies from its library of films available for online rental in North America.

MGM is making 600 titles from its library of about 4,100 films available. According to an announcement by YouTube, those include "timeless love stories like West Side Story and Moonstruck" as well as "sci-fi action films like The Terminator and Robocop" and "modern classics like Rain Man and Rocky."

YouTube launched the movie rental service in May. It has since made similar deals with Sony Pictures Entertainment, Warner Bros., Universal Studios, Lionsgate and Walt Disney, which also is part of a co-branded channel. That channel is one of more than 100 channels launched at the same time as the online rental service.

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The only major movie studio that has not yet made a deal with Google and YouTube in 20th Century Fox. The deal with Paramount was for about 9,000 titles and was a surprise because the studio’s parent company, Viacom, is still involved in a lawsuit charging YouTube with breach of its copyright. That is an echo of the past when YouTube was seen as the enemy. That clearly has changed as YouTube and Google have found legal ways to work with the studios; at the same time, the studios have been working through the MPAA to take down pirate sites who made many of the same movies available without paying royalties to the copyright holders.

There is a reason the studios have made this move, even as the sale and rental of DVD’s continues to decline. The YouTube/Google announcement cited a study by HIS Screen Digest which predicts that "online movie watching in the U.S. will double this year and will make up the majority of people’s home entertainment viewing."

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