Google wants to be your go-to guy for online media, and is inching closer to the launch a paid YouTube subscription service, according to reports. But can YouTube -- which has mostly been free, fed by advertising dollars -- function as a pay service? And can Google acquire content rich enough to compete with Amazon, Netflix, and others?
The New York Post references unnamed Hollywood executives who said that the streaming video-on-demand service will be launched first in Europe -- with emphasis on the U.K. -- before expanding to the U.S. The streaming video market in the U.K. is still in its infancy and is led by the Netflix-like LoveFilm, which was recently acquired by Amazon. But in the U.S., streaming video is massive, and a for-pay YouTube would compete against Amazon's new Prime streaming, Netflix, Hulu Plus, and others.
Google is reportedly spending in excess of $100 million to nab quality content, but some providers aren't thrilled with Google's lax treatment of copyright infringement and piracy. Though Google is taking forceful steps against piracy -- recently blacklisting bit torrent sites from its Instant results -- those may not be enough for major content providers to trust Google with its dollars.
But don't hold your breath for a paid YouTube. This rumor has been bouncing around for an eternity. Also, a Google rep flat-out denied the plans to The Next Web: "Today, YouTube is focused on building out and improving its current U.S.-based rental offering. While we aim to always push all of our products out globally to our community, we have no plans to launch a European rentals service in the near future."