SAN FRANCISCO — YouTube on Monday added 3,000 new movies for “rent” online in the United States as it continued an evolution aimed at wooing viewers away from television.
“You’re spending just 15 minutes a day on YouTube, and spending five hours a day watching TV,” YouTube head Salar Kamangar said in a post at the Google-owned video-sharing website.
“As the lines between online and offline continue to blur, we think that’s going to change.”
In addition to beefing up its online movie roster, YouTube was increasing support for “partners” who create amateur clips that are attracting “TV-sized” audiences at the website, according to Kamangar.
Approximately two billion video views are logged daily at YouTube, which is available on 350 million devices, he noted.
“Whether it’s short movie trailers, funny movie parodies or full-length blockbuster films, we encourage you to sit back and settle in to the YouTube movies experience,” Kamangar said.
Movies available for streaming as online rentals at YouTube had been mostly older titles but the Google-owned technology firm has been collaborating with Hollywood studios to find ways to make fresh films available.
YouTube said that it is broadening its rental service at youtube.com/movies with new films from Sony Pictures, Warner Brothers, NBCUniversal, Lionsgate Films and “many great independent studios.”
New releases will cost $3.99 to rent while library titles will cost $2.99, YouTube product marketing manager Camille Hearst said in a blog post.
People will have 30 days to watch rentals, needing to finish a movie within 24 hours from when viewing is started. Hearst promised some titles would be available for streaming the same day they are released on DVDs.
The list of titles being added to YouTube included “Inception” and “King’s Speech” as well as “Green Hornet” and “Despicable Me.”
“In addition to the hundreds of free movies available on the site since 2009, you will be able to find and rent some of your favorite films,” Hearst said.
“The new titles will begin appearing later today and over the coming weeks to www.youtube.com/movies, so keep checking back.”
Many movie pages will feature extra content such as interviews as well as parodies and remixed clips uploaded by YouTube users, according to Hearst.
YouTube has been evolving from its early days as predominately an online stage for amateur snippets of backyard stunts and other antics.
In April, YouTube added a stage for live events at the world’s leading video-sharing website.
YouTube Live launched online at youtube.com/live, letting people subscribe to watch shows or events streamed by the Google-owned operation’s partners.
The video-sharing website had live-streamed concerts, sporting events and interviews previously, but on an intermittent basis. The Live platform made real-time programming a standard part of the service.
YouTube has reportedly been preparing a major overhaul of the website by creating “channels” to compete with broadcast and cable TV.
Already the third most viewed website in the world, it hopes the plan will further boost traffic to the site and take a bite out of the $70 billion US television advertising market.
YouTube in March debuted what it said was the first feature-length Hollywood movie created specifically for the Internet.
“Girl Walks Into A Bar” was described “a comedy about a seemingly unrelated group of characters spending a single night at 10 different bars throughout Los Angeles.”
It was directed by Sebastian Gutierrez, who wrote the screenplay for “Snakes on a Plane” starring Samuel L. Jackson, and produced by Gato Negro Films and Shangri-La Entertainment.
It could be watched at youtube.com/ytscreeningroom.
YouTube, which was bought by Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion, has been adding professional content such as full-length television shows and movies to its vast trove of amateur video offerings in a bid to attract advertisers.