'The Interview' Raises Profile of YouTube's Movie Rental Service

The Interview Still 6 - H 2014
Ed Araquel

The Interview Still 6 - H 2014

The film can be rented or purchased for streaming through the Google-owned site.

By agreeing to stream The Interview, YouTube is raising the profile of its movie rental system.

The Google-owned streaming service announced in a blog post Wednesday that it is offering The Interview for rental or purchase on YouTube's movies page and online store Google Play. The Seth Rogen and James Franco film went live online at 10 am PT on Wednesday and can be rented for $5.99 or purchased in HD for $14.99.

Read more Sony's 'The Interview' Download Site Slow and Glitchy in Debut

YouTube is primarily known for its short-form video, but the streamer has had movie renting capabilities for a number of years. In 2011 it beefed up the then-nascent service through licensing agreements with Warner Bros., Sony and Universal. At the time, the deals gave Google access to newer titles, in addition to the library catalog it had been offering.   

Today, the service offers a range of titles, including David Fincher's Gone GirlRichard Linklater's Boyhood and summer blockbuster Guardians of the Galaxy. Prices range from $14.99 to buy a new release like The Boxtrolls to $2.99 to rent an older film like Disney's Tangled

YouTube's movie rentals are not promoted from the homepage. Instead, a person must go to the Movies channel, which has 18.5 million subscribers, to find the titles that are available. Clicking on a film directs a person to watch a preview before renting or purchasing it for streaming. YouTube then handles the credit card transaction through Google payments system Wallet. 

Google chief legal officer David Drummond wrote that Sony approached them last week about making The Interview available online. He writes that the search giant was “eager to help" but did have security "at the front of our minds." He continues, “after discussing all the issues, Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be)." 

Google Play, Microsoft's Xbox Video and Sony are also streaming The Interview.