YouTube, the Google owned video-sharing website, is to start offering movies to rent from tomorrow. Initially, only five films will be available, and these are only to users in the US. The content is from the 2009 and 2010 Sundance Film Festival and 4 out of the 5 films will cost $3.99, around £2.50 (trailers are available for the five films here.). Following this initial launch, YouTube are expected to get some bigger Hollywood names on board who will be keen to offer their movies to a wider audience.
YouTube do have a major competitor in the form of Hulu which is a joint venture between NBC Universal, Fox and ABC and currently offers TV and films from the major US studios. Currently, Hulu only offers content in the US, but was expected to make a launch in the in September 2009. This was delayed as they couldn't get a major UK TV broadcaster on board in time. With 4oD and Five on demand now available from YouTube in the UK, Hulu will definitely have to compete hard in the UK, and bringing TV and movie content from its parents companies may help it do so.
Of course, the longer users in the UK have to wait for viable services to be available, the more they will turn to alternate methods to receive the content they want, such as P2P and file sharing websites. Some services are starting to appear, if you have the right equipment to get them. Sony launched the European PS3 video store in November 2009 which offers over 2000 films for rent or purchase with prices from €1.99 (around £1.75).