Google trials new video service

Google is piloting a new scheme on its Google Video service that allows viewers to watch premium films for free. The films are supported by sponsorship that puts a banner ad at the top of the viewing screen and a sponsor’s message at the end of the film.

Google trials new video service

The new service, Google Video Free Today, is the first of a number of new initiatives Google is promising to free up content from the video library and investigating whether an advertising supported model is more profitable than a pay-per-download model.

The videos usually cost between cost between $0.30 and $14.99 and you get to keep them. The current promotion simply allows you to stream them to your computer and view them.

The initial ‘free’ service is due to last around a week although Google is hinting that other pilots may appear throughout the year. Initially the library consists of some 2000 films ranging from cartoons, movies from the silent era including the jaw-droppingly racist classic ‘Birth of a Nation’, music videos and TV programmes.

Sponsors range from independent record labels and mainstream pay per download movie retailers. Unlike the AdWords programme, advertisers get to choose which videos to sponsor. At the same time, the content owners are allowed to veto sponsors of their movies. However, Google is suggesting that this process might be automated over time so that movies are categorised for both sponsors and owners.

Larry Page announced the pay per download service during his keynotes speech at CES at the beginning of the year. With this announcement, Google looks as though it is trying to steer a middle path between ‘free’ videos as they currently are on the Google Video site or YouTube and the paid for video services that are springing up around the world. Furthermore, as Apple is currently discovering, the movie studios want to keep a tight hold on how their content is distributed.

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