YouTube Movie Rental Service - Review

Besides free videos, YouTube also sells and rents movies

YouTube logo on an illustrated film strip background

YouTube is best known for its user-uploaded free videos of Matt dancing around the world, talking dogs, and piano playing cats.

However, in addition to all those free videos, YouTube also streams an abundance of movie titles, including new releases and classics, via its movie rental service, making YouTube an accessible video-on-demand option.

Movies rental and purchase rates vary from $2.99 to $19.99. Rental rates are for a 24 or 48-hour period once you hit play — depending on the film, you may have up to a 30-day window to start the play process.

YouTube movie rental and purchase options are available via most PC web browsers, and via the YouTube Movie apps available on iOS devices (7.0 or later), Android smartphones, select Smart TVs (2013 or newer running the Android TV operating system), Chromecast, Xbox, PlayStation 3/4, and the Apple TV and Roku media streamers.

Although YouTube may have a selection of the latest popular movie releases, it is probably not enough to abandon other video-on-demand sites like Vudu, Amazon Instant Video, iTunes and, of course, there are services, such as Netflix and Hulu, which aren't Pay-per-view, but do require a monthly subscription fee.

Paid Movie Rentals Offer Many Extras

In a similar fashion as other video-on-demand services, YouTube's paid movie-rental service includes current hits (2018 examples include: Blade Runner 2049, Despicable Me 3, Dunkirk, It, Logan, Logan Lucky, War For The Planet of the Apes, Wonder Woman, and more) that are available in both standard and high-definition, and a limited number in 4K (depending on whether your devices and internet speed supports the desired option).

In addition to the featured titles that show up when you get to the YouTube Movies page, you can also search to see if a specific movie title is on the service, or browse through the A-Z film list, or through topic categories, which include: New Releases, Top Selling, Animated Movies, Action/Adventure, Comedy, Classic, Documentaries, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction, and more...

YouTube paid movies and shows page in Chrome browser

There is also a related videos list that you can access from the movie page - you don't need to rent the movie to access the list.

The experience of watching YouTube on a TV is good. The picture quality is clear and bright on the big screen and there are typically no visible artifacts.

YouTube offers a full movie experience — similar to what you find on a DVD or Blu-ray Disc — that includes bonus extras. Some of these extras on the movie page include behind-the-scenes videos, cast interviews, as well as unique parodies, clips and other uploads from YouTube users.

How to Rent YouTube Movies

To rent a movie on YouTube, follow these steps:

  • Click the movie link in YouTube's navigation bar.  
  • Choose new releases, movie genres, or browse through free movies.  
  • Once you find a movie to rent or buy, click the title or cover art.
  • This brings up a detail page that includes a link to the Rotten Tomatoes reviews, as well as some suggestions for other similar films.
  • Click the rent/buy price button to rent or buy the movie. Some movies offer both rental and purchase options, and some just offer purchase.
Screenshot of Ready Player One rental button on YouTube
  • To continue, if you haven't done so already, you need to create or log in to your YouTube or Google Gmail account.
  • You may also need to enter a credit card and billing information if this is your first Google purchase. Once complete, you can watch the video right away or wait until up to 30 days later to start playback.

Remember, for rentals, you have to watch the film within 24 or 48 hours from the time you first press Play. However, you can watch the movie as many times as you like within the designated rental window. If you purchase a film, you can view at any time, as many times as you like.

Watching Movies and Getting Refunds If There is a Problem

For the purpose of this review, two paid movie rentals and one free movie were viewed.

The first movie tested was The Green Hornet. I watched it on my Google TV's (predecessor to Android TV) Chrome web browser. Twenty minutes into the film, it jumped to the end of the movie and stopped. In order to solve the problem, the film slider was positioned just past the point where it jumped.  It played again for 10 minutes and again jumped to the end. The same thing happened on a PC. Not being able to watch the movie, a refund was requested. The process was easy and efficient.

To get a refund, go to your YouTube Account tab. Click the Purchases tab. Then click the Report a Problem link. Once you have indicated the problem you had, click on the option that you want a refund. In some cases, the money is refunded within 10 minutes.

The two remaining films viewed: The Dilemma and Super Size Me played with without further problems.

The Bottom Line

Overall, the YouTube movie rental service is easy to use, particularly if you are accustomed to watching videos on YouTube. While the picture quality is satisfactory, other services that offer high-definition videos — Vudu, Amazon on Demand, Netflix — outperform YouTube and offer most of the same films, and they offer more selections in 4K if your TV has that capability and your internet speed is fast enough.

The YouTube movie rentals and purchase service represents another streaming option that is available on your PC and a variety of other devices, and although not as well known or available on as many devices, for those that have access to it, the YouTube Movie Rental service may be an alternative to Netflix, Vudu, Amazon Video, etc.

Visit to try out the service for yourself. For additional assistance, also check out an instructional video, and/or the YouTube Movies Support Page.

The YouTube movie rental service should not be confused with YouTubeTV, which is a paid subscription streaming service that provides access to a package of several TV and movie streaming channels for a flat monthly fee. YouTube TV is similar to services such as SlingTV and DirecTV Now which provide a cord-cutting alternative to cable and satellite TV.