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Coming soon to your computer screen

Zafar Anjum | Sept. 3, 2009
If talks between Hollywood studios and YouTube dont break down, film buffs would have less reason to make a trip to the pirated video sellers.

Have you seen Quentin Tarantinos Inglorious Bastards yet? If you are not in America, chances are you have not seen it. At least not legally.

But some of my friends in India (where the film has not been released yet) have seen it and they shout on Facebook that they got their copies from Delhis Palika Bazaar, the infamous underground market in Indias capital where you get all kinds of pirated movies.

In every country, every big city has its Palika Bazaar. Film lovers sometimes have no choice: delayed releases, the pain of going to a movie theatre, and the rising cost of cinema tickets make them beat the path to the piracy store.

For such film aficionados, who dont want to err on the side of the law, the prospect of YouTube legally streaming movies could prove to be a big relief.

According to The Wall Street Journal, YouTube is in talks with Hollywood movie studios to offer streaming movie rentals. The report said that the video-sharing site is holding talks with studios Lions Gate Entertainment, Sony, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, and Warner Bros. to make premium video content available online.

Though in the US already offers some films, but it is not available in other countries. YouTube can make the service ubiquitous.

However, the deal is not through yet, and as the newspaper reported, talks could break down without an agreement.

But if the deal comes through (and it will, if not today, a few years down the line), it will have a major effect on Hollywoods film distribution strategy. Hollywood studios are already reeling from the effects of the financial crisis and one of their biggest source of their incomeDVD salesare already in decline. The blow also comes from the rampant piracy that does not seem to stop. In this situation, a deal with YouTube might well be Hollywoods salvation.

To be honest, people are already watching movies on YouTube. There are innumerous copies of Hollywood and Bollywood flicks on YouTube today. Agreed that from the puritanical perspective, watching movies on YouTube is not one of the best ways to enjoy the aesthetics of cinema but for a generation that watches films on anything that has a screen (from iPhones to laptops), it will still make a lot of sense.

As countries are advancing and augmenting their Internet networks and download speeds are getting faster, watching a movie on YouTube may not be that bad an experience. And if one is at home, one can even get the YouTube hooked to ones high-definition TVand lo, you have a home theatre experience. And you can pop your own popcorn too!


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