Google Looking to Turn YouTube Into iTunes TV Competitor?


According to MediaMemo, Google might be looking to ink an agreement with networks to let YouTube stream TV shows -- for $1.99, just like iTunes (and Amazon).

Of course, when you pay iTunes $1.99 you get a local copy of the TV show on your PC -- to keep -- and the ability to view it from iTunes or Apple TV or iPhone or iPod and back. Now all those devices can hook into YouTube (it's built into Apple TV and iPhone/iPod touch) but do consumers really want to pay the same for a stream as a download, especially if there's no guarantee (yet?) that you can "pay once, stream forever on all devices"?

Executives at YouTube and TV insist that the disparity is simply a perception problem and cite studies showing that most people who download TV episodes only watch them once, anyway. But that’s a tough sell.

Um, yeah, no. I've watched some episodes of some shows a dozen or more times. Still, Google's a huge player, YouTube has a dominant streaming video footprint, and it will be interesting to see what, if any, deal emerges, and how this mythical service would compete with the mythical iTunes TV subscriptions we've also heard rumored.

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Rene Ritchie

EiC of iMore, EP of Mobile Nations, Apple analyst, co-host of Debug, Iterate, Vector, Review, and MacBreak Weekly podcasts. Cook, grappler, photon wrangler. Follow him on Twitter and Google+.

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Reader comments

Google Looking to Turn YouTube Into iTunes TV Competitor?


I wouldn't pay for a stream. That's like I'm paying 1.29 for a song on iTunes to stream fir 3:49 mintues and never hearing it again unless I pay another 1.29.
I never watch an episode of Heroes more than once when I did pay for it on iTunes however , at least I had the choice of keeping it.
1.99 for a STREAM is too much. Maybe if it was 99 cent I would give it a whirl , otherwise — no.

I view YouTube as free, user generated, content. I'd expect a local copy if I paid. But I doubt I'd pay for a YouTube video.

I think the other factor Google isn't considering is offline availability. I'll purchase/download a bunch of shows in iTunes before traveling so I can watch them while on a plane, or killing time in the airport or hotel without having to pay for wi-fi. Can't do that with streaming...

my songs, i don't want to stream. i want them to be mobile and immediately accessible, which largely precludes streaming. songs also don't take up much space, so storing them locally isn't a big deal.
movies, on the other hand, i don't want to store locally. even if i have a large hard drive, getting them on and off a mobile device is a pain.
google will have to undercut apple here, since no one really believes that “pay once, stream forever on all devices” is going to work out as claimed, but i think the streaming model could prove more successful than the local storage model - if only for movies.

most people watch movies on their home TV anyway. itunes might remain profitable for a niche demographic of people who travel a lot and don't like paying for wifi, but for the majority of people who want to watch movies and TV at home, and in the future over highspeed mobile wireless carrier networks, offline availability will be irrelevant.