Disney, Pixar, DreamWorks Dive Into YouTube Movie Rental Program

Online video viewers searching "Disney," "Pixar" or "DreamWorks Studios" on YouTube will start seeing more substantial results after a landmark distribution deal between the four companies.

Broadcasting Ourselves, the official YouTube blog, reported Wednesday that the Web platform is adding full-length movie titles from Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks Studios to its collection of online movie rentals. Web surfers can now stream their favorite family-friendly titles from all three studios online at for a nominal fee between $0.99 and $3.99.

The three studios and their large back catalogs join earlier distribution deals YouTube signed with Warner Bros. and Universal Studios last May. The U.K.'s Mirror reported that YouTube then had over 1,000 films at its disposal, all of which are available for 30 days and typically allow 48 hours for full viewing once a film has started. It said viewers merely log into their YouTube accounts and push play on a film they'd like to watch it.

"It's an acknowledgement that we want to work with the best brands, and, yes, we expect this partnership to attract new advertisers," Robert Kyncl, YouTube's global head for content partnerships, told The New York Times earlier this month. At that time, YouTube and Disney also began working on $10-15 million worth of original Web series together before their latest agreement.

"It's imperative to go where our audience is," James A. Pitaro, co-president of Disney Interactive, said to the Times. "[This will] bring Disney's legacy of storytelling to a new generation of families and Disney enthusiasts on the platforms they prefer."

The deal marks the latest development in YouTube's storied history with online video. Launched in 2005 to conveniently share video recordings across the internet, it was purchased by Google, the popular search engine, a year later. Broadcasting Ourselves said that by 2010, YouTube had teamed with the Sundance Film Festival to slowly release independent films as rentals.

Business was booming a year later, and the platform thus helped produce "Life in a Day," a documentary covering an entire day on Earth through YouTube video uploads. 80,000 videos were submitted to the project, and the final cut debuted at Sundance last January.

YouTube's recent media partnerships, however, place it on a more visible path toward raising revenue.

Its initial launch of the movie rental program, Broadcasting Ourselves said, made available such mainstream hits as "Inception," "The King's Speech" and "Despicable Me." Its new alliance with Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks, it added, allows it a broad assortment of animated classics like "Alice in Wonderland" and "Winnie the Pooh."

The platform's acquisitions with perhaps the biggest potential come in the form of its many new film franchises. Adding Disney and Pixar to YouTube's partners has always yielded the lucrative "Cars" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" series for streaming online.

"Netflix is still on the tip of everyone's tongues," said John Peterson, the Daily Caller's tech editor, to CP. "Google's new partnership with Disney is an attempt to bring a high-profile endorsement to its YouTube movie rental service, in turn helping Google make a legitimate run at that market. YouTube users benefit from having high-profile, high-quality content at their fingertips."

Broadcasting Ourselves reported that YouTube will add additional content from its three new partners as time wears on. It will also feature "YouTube Movie Extras" such as parodies, behind-the-scenes footage and cast interviews easily added to its total online content. The blog estimated that 35 hours of new footage are uploaded on YouTube every minute, and as such, it will prove a valuable medium for the platform's new partners in Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks Studios.

"Google is – in the most simplistic of terms – in the business of eyeballs," Peterson said. "Eyeballs also mean clicks. The more people that click on anything within your ecosystem means the more data your company collects on that type of person. Data is the gold of the internet era."

Calls and e-mails to YouTube, Google, Disney, Pixar and DreamWorks Studios were not returned by press time.

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