It's been reported here and elsewhere that YouTube was in the process of beefing up its online catalog of films that users can stream to their computers -- and on Monday, the Google-owned company announced that 6,000 titles were now available, including recent hits 'The King's Speech,' 'Inception,' 'Little Fockers,' 'The Green Hornet,' 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- Part 1,' 'Burlesque,' 'Due Date,' 'Inside Job' and 'Despicable Me.'
Streaming costs range from $2.99 to $3.99 for a "24-hour pass," meaning you have one day to finish viewing a title once you begin it, but you have 30 days to begin watching the movie after you rent it.
Studios in the YouTube fold include NBC Universal, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Starz, the Weinstein Co., Magnolia Pictures and others. Conspicuously absent are Paramount, Fox and Disney.
One nice touch that YouTube has added to its pages for each film offered for rental: movie extras that one would normally find on DVD special editions, such as cast interviews, alternate endings, featurettes, trailers, and even new content specific to a tile, created by YouTube partners. For 'Harry Potter,' for example, there were spoofs, a J.K. Rowling biography by BioChannelTV, a 'Harry Potter/Star Wars Mashup' from the BBC, a FunnyorDie interview with Daniel Radcliffe, and more.
Clearly, YouTube wants to give Netflix, Hulu, Apple, and other similar sites a run for the money -- and wants a piece of the multi-billion dollar VOD pie. And get a leg up on the 800-pound gorilla that has just entered the market: Facebook, which recently swung a deal with Warner Bros. to stream movies to its Facebook members.