YouTube Movie Rental Service - Review

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

However, YouTube also streams an abundance of movie titles, including new releases, via its movie rental service, making YouTube a viable video on demand option.

Movies rental and purchase rates vary from for $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 the latest popular movie releases, it is probably not enough to abandon other video-on-demand sites like Vudu, Amazon Instant Video or Cinema Now 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

Like other video-on-demand services, YouTube's paid movie-rental service includes current hits (2016 examples include: Star Trek Beyond, The Legend of Tarzan, Snowden, X-Men: Apocalypse, Captain America - Civil War, Inside Out, Star Wars - The Force Awakens, and more) are available in both standard and high-definition (If your devices and internet speed supports it).

You can 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...

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.

In case you are uncertain if you want to rent the film, each film page includes a Rotten Tomato review as well as recommendations for similar film titles.

How to Rent YouTube Movies or Get a Refund for Movies that Won't Play

To rent a movie, click on 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 on 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 on the rent/buy price button to rent or buy the movie. Some movies offer both rental and purchase options, and some just offer purchase. 

Create or login to your YouTube or Google Gmail account. You may 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 your 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 on the "Purchases" tab.  Now click on the "Report a Problem" link. Once you have indicated the problem you had, click on the option that you want a refund.  In my case, the money was refunded within 10 minutes. 

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

Final Take

Overall, YouTube movie rentals are 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 4K viewing options if your TV has that capability and your internet speed is fast enough.  The related videos list is fun and easier to access from the movie page, but you don't need to rent the movie to access the list.

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.

Disclaimer - This review was originally published on 05/27/2011 by Barb Gonzalez - Since that time some aspects of the YouTube movie rental service have changed - such as available movie titles and supported devices. The review has been updated with that information by Robert Silva.