Google's YouTube Movies comes to Canada
Just one day after Blockbuster Canada announced it's closing its remaining movie rental outlets, Google quietly launched a Canadian version of YouTube Movies, its popular online movie rental service.
YouTube Movies has already been up and running in the U.S. since May, but now Canadians can use Canadian dollars to access Hollywood and independent films, for about $3.99 for older movies and $4.99 for new releases.
All that's needed is a computer, tablet, or other Internet-connected device, a free YouTube account, and a credit card.
With a roster of about 3,000 titles, the YouTube service is said to have more Hollywood blockbusters and Canadian content than Netflix.
But Netflix already has an advantage, because hardware devices like the PS3, the Xbox 360 and Wii already come with a Netflix option, so users can quickly set up the service.
Netflix offers Canadians unlimited access to thousands of movies and TV shows for a flat monthly fee of about $8. Users have 30 days from the day they rent a movie to begin watching it, and 48 hours to finish it once they hit ‘Play'.
With YouTube Movies, rental periods will range from 24 to 48 hours, depending on how recent a release it is.
The movie market in Canada should be lucrative for Google. According to comScore Inc., Canadians spend more time watching videos online than people in any other country.
The arrival of YouTube Movies in Canada comes as Blockbuster Canada announces it's closing its remaining DVD rental stores, as it falls victim of the digital movie revolution.
The rental giant went into receivership in May and closed about 150 stores back in June. Now, the group overseeing the proceedings is going to court to shut down the 253 remaining Canadian outlets.
The receiver said Wednesday it had been unable to find a buyer willing to invest in the business and so would begin closing the locations and laying off employees.
About 2,300 employees will be affected.
The receiver said the closure process should begin in the next few days, and existing gift cards and rewards programs would no longer be accepted.
Tech analyst Carmi Levy says the quick demise of Blockbuster in Canada has a lot to do with financial troubles in Blockbuster's U.S. parent company. But he also says that as the Internet changed the calculus of movie consumption, Blockbuster failed to evolve.
"Essentially, the entire process of watching movies and watching television is shifting from conventional," he told CTV's Canada AM Thursday. "…And businesses that fail to anticipate that transition – and in many respects Blockbuster failed to do just that – are unfortunately being left behind."
"The fact that Google steps in with its YouTube movie service on the day after the Blockbuster announcement is no coincidence at all."