Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

YouTube’s Trip to the Movies Nets Enough for Popcorn, and Another Visit

YouTube has finished its first attempt to charge customers to watch Web video. The good news: Some people paid up.

And from YouTube’s perspective, that’s all that matters. Because the Google (GOOG) unit certainly didn’t make any money from the exercise: 2,684 people paid $3.99 a pop to rent indie movies from Sundance, netting all of $10,709.16, the New York Times notes.

But since YouTube hadn’t ever rented a single piece of video to anyone who wasn’t a Google employee before, the company can plausibly claim this was a success. It has been testing movie rentals internally for some time, and Google execs have suggested both publicly and privately that they’ll be renting films–and perhaps TV shows–in the near future.

But among other things, they need to show Hollywood that they can actually do this, so the Sundance experiment could be useful no matter how many dollars it generates.

I’d assumed that the standard pricing/windowing/biz-dev issues were holding up YouTube’s entry into paid video, but some industry executives have told me that there are technical issues to deal with as well, like making sure video files are handled securely. So Sundance has to help, right?

Meanwhile, here’s the trailer from “Be Kind Rewind,” a movie about movies I haven’t seen but would like to. Maybe once this season of “Lost” ends.


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work