The rental feature, which goes live this Friday, will apply to the five Sundance films until the end of January. YouTube says that other films and programs will be made available for rental in the near future, but has not yet named which partners will be involved outside of mentioning that the health and education industries will be included.
Going forward, YouTube is inviting what it calls a "small group" of partners that will be able to apply the new rental model to videos they have hosted on the service. And similar to what YouTube did with paid video downloads around this same time last year, owners of these videos will be able to set their own pricing, as well as duration of how long that rental can be accessed.
In order to rent videos, users must have a Google Checkout account. The company has not said whether it will allow other payment platforms, such as PayPal, to be used as as a payment option.
YouTube has long been expected to get into the video-on-demand business, especially since Google removed video content purchases from its (now-defunct) Google Video service at the end of 2007. Also, late last year, reports surfaced that YouTube was in talks with a number of film studios in an attempt to warm them to the idea of renting their films on the service. Notably, Sony Pictures went on the record as having talked with Google about such an offering, although at the time it was looking for a way to boost the brand image of its Crackle video streaming site.