It’s understood to have signed licensing deals with studios including Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal Pictures and Warner Brothers, according to The Wrap, to create a movie-on-demand platform offering the latest high-profile releases.
The move would complement YouTube’s existing film rental service, which allows people to watch more than 400 independent ad-supported titles. Launched in September, these include Bollywood, action, comedy and classic movies such as Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home, Animal Farm and Night of the Living Dead.
But a deal with the major studios to provide the latest blockbuster releases would put YouTube in direct competition with established players such as Netflix, which has approximately 23m subscribers in North America.
Last week Tesco bought an 80% stake in video-on-demand service Blinkbox as part of its own push into the home entertainment market.
Meanwhile, LoveFilm has partnered with The Walt Disney Company to stream films including Tron: Legacy, Armageddon and Dead Poets Society. The deal is the latest step in the company’s ongoing expansion strategy, which has seen it sign content deals with studios MGM, Momentum and Warner Bros.