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YouTube Movies & Shows

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YouTube movies and shows are part of YouTube’s gigantic streaming network. It’s much similar to Vudu in operation wherein you can either rent or buy a movie or particular episode of a TV Show. Unlike YouTube TV, YouTube movies and shows offer the freedom to buy or rent the content that you like instead of subscribing to its services.

I have bought over a dozen movies on YouTube including titles such as ‘Avengers: Endgame’, ‘Pete’s Dragon’, ‘Goosebumps’, ‘The Big Sick’, ‘Anabelle Creation’, ‘Rampage’ and a Bollywood classic ‘Rockstar’.

If you’ve read my Vudu Review, you’d already know that I’m a big fan of the video-on-demand model. These mediums aren’t cord-cutting alternatives but they do make interesting content available which can be rented or bought without any commitment. I’m quite neutral about YouTube’s movies and shows because there’s nothing overly positive or negative to share with you.

Sense of Familiarity

Most of us spend around 2-3 hours streaming podcasts, watching viral videos, music covers, movie trailers and content uploaded by our favorite YouTube channels. Most of us are used to YouTube’s interface and this service is nothing but a separate channel with nearly 97.2 million subscribers. You can find almost all types of movies from around the world and that too in different languages. Before we talk about its history, I’d like to clarify something.

Difference between YouTube Services

YouTube Movie Rental Service is different from YouTubeTV or YouTube Premium. The latter is a paid subscription streaming service whereas the former follows a VOD model. There’s no monthly or yearly fee and no contract as is in majority of the Cable TV, Satellite TV or streaming subscription networks.


Did you know that YouTube was founded by three Paypal employees? Steve Chen, Chad Hurley and Jawed Karim were the brains behind YouTube. Also, did you know that YouTube established a partnership with NBC before Google acquired it? Crazy right? YouTube within a year of its launch was one of the world’s fastest-growing sites, hosting more than 65,000 new videos. The site averaged 20 million visitors per month and raked around 100 million video views per video in July 2006 which made it world’s fifth-most popular website.

Finally, just one and a half years after its launch, YouTube was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion in October 2006. At that time, YouTube became Google’s second-largest acquisition. The acquisition, however, was not simple as YouTube operated independently with its co-founders working with 68 Google Employees.

That was just the start, since then, the streaming giant has broken all streaming records and has played a vital role in defining the social media sphere generally referred to as the Big Six. YouTube became the face of the video-streaming industry and since then has actively launched more than dozens of initiatives which includes its movie rentals business alongside ventures such as ‘Premium Service’, ‘Originals’, ‘YouTubeTV’ and ‘YouTube for Kids’ to name a few.


If you’re familiar with YouTube, you’re already familiar with its rental service. The moment you click on Movies and Shows, you land on a page with a reel icon supported with text ‘Movies and Shows’ and a byline ‘Watch the latest and greatest hits’. Its grey and black color scheme is something we’re quite used to and thus there’s neither an oomph factor nor any kind of dissatisfaction towards it.

When you click on any specific title, the YouTube Video window opens up and starts playing the trailer. As usual, it has the Title under the video in white color, followed by its upload date on the left and engagement parameters on the right. Every Movie or TV show that you find on the paid/rental service will have a description capturing the following details: – Synopsis – Provider – Rating – Release Date – Running Time – Language – Actors – Director – Producer – Genres – Support

Underneath the description, there’s a comment section, which is usually empty. However, you can comment on the movie and interact with the viewers. On the right-hand side, you’ll find a Rent or Buy Button. When you click on it, you’ll get the option to Buy or Rent the movie in SD or HD quality.

Whether you’re on a mobile device or PC, YouTube Rental Service’s interface is good-looking and straightforward. YouTube’s excellent machine learning ensures that you get tailor-made content. So, while there’s a lot of recommended movies and shows, it does know what you might like or dislike based upon your viewing preference. For instance, I happen to be a big fan of Kumail Nanjiani and I often watch his videos, thus ‘Big Sick’ is the first option I saw. This observation is personal though. I’m not claiming that it’s been proven.


Here comes the meaty part. YouTube’s paid movie-rental service has all the latest movies that you need. For instance, it has 2019’s best movies such as Avengers Infinity War, A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Black Panther, Dunkirk, Despicable Me 3, It, Hunter Killer and Logan to name a few. All of these movies are available in either SD or HD quality. Though YouTube does have 4K content, it suggests that you have an internet speed of at least 15mbps to watch the content.

When you visit the YouTube movies and shows page, you get well-curated playlists such as its own recommendation, New Releases, Top-Sellers and various genres featuring Drama, Comedy, Documentaries, Thriller, Family, Music, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery & Suspense, Crime, World Cinemas, Classics and more.

Desktop/Mobile experience

If you haven’t yet signed up for YouTube, it’ll ask you to do so. Having a Google account is a pre-requisite for buying or renting a movie. If you have your Gmail account, it’ll automatically help you proceed with the payment procedure. Overall, watching a rental movie on YouTube is quite similar to your usual video watching experience. There’s nothing extravagant or different from the original viewing experience.

You can cast your movies onto your Smart TV via Chromecast. But that’s not it there are many advantages of watching movies or shows via YouTube paid or rental service: – It supports most PC web browsers – You can watch movies via the YouTube app on Android or iOS phone – Use smart TVs which help you cast content onto your TV – Works with gaming consoles such as PS3, PS4, Xbox and Xbox One – It also supports Apple TV and Roku TV

From personal experience, if you keep the video quality on Auto, YouTube generally nails down the video quality based upon internet connectivity. Most of the movies available can only be streamed up to a max quality of 720p. When you click on Buy or Rent option, you’ll only get to purchase the content at two available resolutions: SD (480p) or HD (720p). Most of our viewing experience takes place at 720p.

Seamless Refund Experience

Most of the time, it so happens that we rent a movie and later find out that streaming is not up to the mark. My initial experiences with this service were quite disappointing. My first rented stream stopped after the first thirty minutes and then directly jumped to the end and stopped. After contacting Google, this bug was fixed but that didn’t stop the problem. My second rental experience saw the stream play for less than 10 minutes. After getting frustrated, I requested a refund, and the process was seamless.

Though this happened back in 2016, my recent streams have been hassle-free. But just in case if you get stuck in this bubble. Here’s how you can get a refund. – Go to Account Tab – Click on Purchases – Click on Report a Problem link

Indicate the problem you’re facing and then click on an option that says refund. With refunding though, sometimes, the process is quick whereas other times it might take a tad bit longer. Especially, when YouTube wants to troubleshoot the problem and verify the issues before authorizing the refunding process. I don’t mind the second step because they have a strong reason for doing the cross-check.

Plans & Pricing

YouTube movie rental and purchase options vary between $2.99 to $19.99. Some movies and shows might cost less whereas others can cost more. As for renting option, you can rent for a period of up to 24-48 hours. Once you hit play, the clock starts ticking. Some movies even allow a 30-day window, thus it all depends upon the terms agreed between the content publisher and YouTube.

Suggestions I have for YouTube

My suggestions to YouTube regarding its paid/rental service would be similar to Amazon Prime Video. Just get an independent platform where you can run this as your subsidiary product. Maybe rebrand it a little. Though the channel does have nearly 100 million subscribers, literally no one seems interested in buying or renting movies. And that’s because of the lack of proper promotion and advertising.


I suggested at the start that there’s not much negative or positive to talk about this service. It’s there but it isn’t making any noise or creating a substantial difference. It’s similar to Vudu in its operation except for YouTube if it wants can really make it stand out. I understand that YouTube’s primary focus is on YouTubeTV and YouTube Originals, but VOD shouldn’t be undermined especially for demographics who watch movies occasionally.

Likes & Hates:
Video on demand with no subscription
Compatible with almost all devices
Provides additional access to Movie Bonus Features
Seamless refund process in case if things go south
Available titles are limited
4K option not available in rentals/purchases
Instructions regarding rentals/purchases not clear on some devices
Service isn’t well promoted or highlighted