Take it away, The Associated Press:
“YouTube is doubling the size of its online video store in an expansion that will make more movies available for Internet streaming at the same time they’re released on DVD,” the AP reported. “YouTube, owned by Internet search leader Google Inc., is hoping to lure business away from Apple Inc.’s iTunes store and Amazon.com Inc.’s website … All three services are trying to undercut Netflix Inc., whose subscription video service has added more than 13 million customers during the past two years to underscore the growing popularity of watching movies over high-speed Internet connections instead of DVDs.”
Whew. That was a lot.
This, the story later cited, means that YouTube will now offer … wait for it … a whole 6,000 rental selections, basically doubling the amount it currently offers. The movies can be rented for $3 or $4 per viewing, and if you decide to really do this, you’ll have up to 30 days to begin watching a video, but you must complete the viewing 24 hours after starting watching whatever it is your little heart desires.
Quick: Raise your hand if this means anything at all to you.
That’s what I thought.
This is a gigantic mistake on YouTube’s part. As someone who relies entirely on an Internet connection to view anything at all, from a simple basketball game, to the latest edition of “Saturday Night Live,” I can say with 100 percent confidence that because of my trusty Netflix account; because of my trusty television on DVD collection; and because of my ability to find whatever it is I need to watch online, oh, say, anywhere else, you can count me among all of the individuals who didn’t just raise a hand.
The question here: What is YouTube really trying to do? Google bought it in 2006, and with the innovation of Google TV, one has to wonder if YouTube plans on slithering its way into the homes of millions through that particular vehicle. What isn’t being considered, though, is that YouTube is about 45 minutes late to a party where everyone showed up fashionably late to begin with. People already have their ways of viewing entertaining programming — movies included — online. YouTube has made a name for itself by being a source for badly recorded concert videos, 1993 music programing and cats doing really cute things. Conversely, it has not been a way to view the last “Harry Potter” flick.
And that’s precisely my point. The closest YouTube will ever come to being associated with movies has nothing to do with a full-length movie, yet everything to do with movies’ theatrical trailers (case in point, look at where I got the above video). YouTube is embedded in everybody’s minds as a quick source for things. It’s a place you look up clips featuring everything from television shows to movies to music videos to, well, cats. It isn’t a place you consider when wondering where to stream a live event, or checking out a library of movies (which, by the way — 6,000?! Seriously, YouTube? Netflix has 6,000 titles under its Kevin Bacon category alone).
This isn’t a good idea. The last thing anyone wants to see is the demise of YouTube altogether (boy, we love those cat videos, don’t we?!). Investing in such a notion may just end up being the beginning of the end when we look at how irrelevant the site is 25 years from now. Sure, I know there is enough room on the Internet for multiple movie-streaming ventures. That’s quite clear. And nobody is arguing that Netflix is perfect by any means — for as many great things it offers, there are three other elements we could all argue that simply just aren’t any good. But to think that YouTube would seriously want to compete with an already-gigantic company who has seemingly worked its way into every American citizen’s household is to think that YouTube may just be signing its own death certificate. And if you don’t believe me, just look at how well things turned out for Blockbuster.
So, at the end of the day, stay away from diving deeper into the movie/television world, YouTube. Stick to what you do better than anyone else, which is providing us fickle human beings with such nonsensical entertainment as cats playing with boxes. Or something.