YouTube is taking one giant leap into being a company that might actually make some money out of their ridiculous market share, by getting into bed with Hollywood bigwigs and giving them whatever they want - and what they want in this case is lots of money for allowing the video streaming site to move into the online film rental business. The filthy little harlot.

The service is starting up tomorrow, and is taking baby steps at first; only five films will be online, all of which will come from this year’s Sundance Film Festival, and they will only be available in the USA. Bah. Hopefully it will expand quickly, and take on the likes of Netflix in a brutal price war in which the consumer is the winner.

The system will work thusly; those who are providing content will get to set their own prices, with YouTube taking a cut of the revenue (four of the five Sundance films are being sold for $3.99 a pop). Users will get 48 hours of viewing time for the film.

‘This is a huge move for YouTube in the sense of them trying to monetise the site,’ Mike McGuire, principal analyst at Gartner Research told BBC News. ‘This certainly opens the door for them with bigger movie studios.

'Content is king in this kind of business and Sundance is a good first step. Negotiating with the major studios over distribution rights however is not for the faint hearted. Google has to perfect its delivery model and its billing system.'

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