YouTube jumps into the film rental market; rentals priced at $3.99

YouTube isn't content just competing against ESPN - now they're going up against Netflix. Well, sort of. They won't have a vast catalog to start off with, but YouTube is entering the online rental business.

YouTube isn't content just competing against ESPN - now they're going up against Netflix. Well, sort of. They won't have a vast catalog to start off with, but YouTube is entering the online rental business.

In partnership with the Sundance Film Festival starting today, that petite catalog will start off with five indie films: The Cove (pictured above), Bass Ackwards, One Too Many Mornings, Homewrecker and Children of Invention. They'll all be $3.99 a piece via Google’s Checkout online payment service, and only available starting Friday to the end of the film festival on Sunday, January 31.

Beyond the Festival, what does this mean for YouTube? According to The New York Times, YouTube has already been in talks with several major Hollywood studios (Sony, Warner Bros. and Lionsgate) about streaming films on the Google-owned site, and the terms will be similar to that of Apple iTunes and Netflix.

It's questionable how good the quality will be (perhaps anyone who rents the films above can let us know), and it is uncertain what kind of subscription plans they'll have.

And as someone outside the United States right now, will this rental service be available to users worldwide, or just in the U.S. and Canada, like Netflix?