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It was chilly on and offline for Sundance this weekend.

Remember last week how we brought you news of YouTube’s new rental service involving acclaimed Sundance films? Turns out that not many people cared to take the Google-owned video site up on its $3.99 for 48-hour rentals offer. Industry blog NewTeeVee has released the statistics from the new service’s first weekend in operation, and the results are dismal.

The five films offered by YouTube were rented fewer that 1,500 times total, for an average of about 300 rentals per title. This makes the total rental earnings from all the films less than $6,000 over the weekend, before YouTube’s fees.

Before you get feeling too sorry for YouTube, know that Barclay Capital analyst Doug Anmuth recently reported that YouTube will turn a profit for the first time this year, with more than 55% growth leading to $700 million in revenues.

Why do you think YouTube’s Sundance experiment failed, Insiders? Or should it be considered a failure at all, given that these were not major blockbuster films and new revenue streams can take time to grow? Let us know what you think (and if you were one of the teeming dozens who rented one of these films) in the comments.

[via NewTeeVee]

10 Responses to “Rough Start for YouTube/Sundance Online Rentals”

  1. Visitor [Join Now]
    The [visitor]

    Why didn’t they take a clue from Redbox and make it $1? People would probably rent 2 at a time. And state how much the filmmaker gets in really clear terms. People like supporting the artists directly and this is a good idea in that part.

  2. Visitor [Join Now]
    DJAikou [visitor]

    Those trailers looked pretty kool to me. I was thinking about renting some, but $3.99 is way too much in my opinion.

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    Josh Bozeman [visitor]

    Sorry, but why would I rent for the same price an indie no one has even picked up (as far as I’m aware), when I can get a $100 million blockbuster for the same price? You have to sell low with these movies…I haven’t seen much about them, but I’m going to assume they don’t have the same sort of selling power that a Hollywood comedy or action blockbuster has, whether that’s fair or not.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      Robert [visitor]

      Well, that’s clearly missing the point. There are plenty of people (most of them web-savvy) that don’t give a crap about a blockbuster film as most of them are crap. The problem is that no one, movie snob or not, is going to pay $4 to digitally rent a movie they can only watch once.

    • Member [Join Now]
      Timec [timec]

      One of the most satisfying and memorable movies I saw in the theaters last year was the low budget “Wendy and Lucy” – a film more powerful and beautiful than a vast majority of special effects-laden films with huge stars. In fact, invariably some of my favorite films of each year turn out to be smaller, more subdued films than what you usually find playing in the megaplex (and which are usually made for a fifth or a tenth the budget of your average Hollywood production.) Which isn’t to say that I don’t love a lot of blockbusters – I do. I just think that a lot of them are also crap (just as a lot of smaller films are also crap) – and that there’s very little correlation between a film’s budget and its quality.

      And you might not have been suggesting otherwise – I just sometimes see some people, on other sites, suggesting that big budget films are somehow inherently superior or more worthwhile or more “filmish” than lower budgeted films, but, well, they’re incredibly wrong.

      With all that said – I still wouldn’t pay $3.99 to watch a film online, be it independent or mainstream. I’ll either go to Salt Lake and Park City (I live in Utah) and pay more to watch the movies on a much, much larger screen in a much higher-quality print or I’ll hope for them to come out on DVD someday and I’ll rent them from the library or Netflix.

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    B. Openminded [visitor]

    Here’s an idea….if you want to create buzz, pay to have these movies distributed via Redbox for a limited time (or just give the movies to Redbox for free for a set period). Then, if there really are some great movies being shown at Sundance, the general public will know about them because people who use Redbox will be like first adopters. They will tell their friends, who will tell their friends, and so on…and so on.

    So Google, welcome to the world of movie lovers. No, we don’t care if its on Youtube and its free. We care if its quality and we have heard good things about it and we can watch it, pause it, rewind it, listen to it with the directors commentary and see all the dvd extras while we sit on our couch with our loved ones and view it on the big screen tv.

    Go Redbox. You guys rock the dvd future.

  5. Visitor [Join Now]
    Ken [visitor]

    I think that $4 is ridiculous for an online 2-day rental. Considering that there is no brick and mortar store with rent and employee overhead or the manufacturing cost of creating a DVD and its associated packaging an online rental should be much, much less. Even Redbox with their $1 rental charge gives you an actual DVD to borrow that can play on a set-top player and doesn’t require a PC to run. (In addition to paying staff to keep the machine stocked and maintained.)
    I could see it being $4 to purchase it and own it, and before I get flamed about supporting small indie film companies and their costs, keep in mind that blockbuster films (which cost much more to produce) often go on sale for $10 as soon as 6 months after they are out and they DO have the costs of printing and packaging a DVD and store overhead.
    At that price, $4 just seems greedy . True, YouTube servers have to be maintained but they are not in existence for these rentals , that is just a side business for them. Look at a site like that SELLS downloaded movies for that price. If they want to sell them for that price I will take a look…to rent them at that price, for 2 days yet?…I don’t think so.

  6. Visitor [Join Now]
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