YouTube Review: Online Video & DVD Rentals

Online Video & DVD Rentals
Bottom Line:
Short selection of TV shows or movies, and interface is confusing and limited
Full Review:
3 2015-05-20 17:12:04 While YouTube was one of the original video streaming services, it's been a little late to the game when it comes to streaming movies and TV shows. While they currently offer a library of streaming movies and TV shows, the selection is small, and many of the offerings are only short clips. While YouTube's pricing is competitive, the interface is confusing and can be hard to use. Bottom line, YouTube has a lot of growing up to do before they can compete with the bigger names in movie and TV streaming.


Like other pay-per-video streaming services, YouTube's movie and TV show pricing depends on which video you are interested in. Additionally, whether you can rent and/or buy the video also depends on which movie or TV show you want to watch. Most TV shows can be bought for $1.99, or you can buy an entire season for a discounted price, depending on how many episodes there are.

Renting a movie can cost anywhere from $1.99 to $4.99. Buying a movie will obviously be more expensive, with an average price of $12.99. Unlike other streaming services, the time you have to watch a rented movie depends on the video. Some of the videos give you 30 days to start watching, others only 48 hours. All the movies or TV shows that you buy will live on the YouTube site, which you can access through your profile page, although they aren't the easiest to find.


We'll start by saying that YouTube does offer many popular titles, including Up, Transformers and the the original Dark Knight Batman movie. Having said that, YouTube's library of movies and TV shows isn't very deep. They have popular cable shows like Breaking Bad and Walking Dead, but for basic cable favorites like Modern Family or Grey's Anatomy, they only offer clips of the show. If you are looking for a specific movie or show, it might be easier to use Amazon or iTunes.

The selection they do have is hard to find. First, on the main YouTube page, you are supposed to click on "Movies" at the top of the page to get to the streaming section, which is confusing since the streaming section also includes TV shows and music videos. Second, once you are on the streaming page, YouTube displays each section with a carousel where you can scroll through a handful of movies from each genre. The problem is that you have to scroll through all of the movies before you see the "View All" button, which takes you to a full list of the movies for that section.

Third, and most frustrating, is that there is no individual search function for the streaming section. So if you search "The Dark Knight" in the search bar, a huge list of individually uploaded videos and clips from the movie pop up, instead of the actual movie that YouTube offers. It makes the whole process of finding a movie or TV show frustrating.

Video Quality

The video quality is similar to other videos on YouTube; it's fine, but can be distorted at times. The movies that we rented also had no HD option, which many other streaming sites offer, so that was a disappointment. For a site that was one of the first in video streaming, we expected a little more from their video quality options.

Viewing Options

Luckily, YouTube is such a brand name that it's everywhere. The bad news is that the streaming version of the service doesn't seem to be available for mobile devices, or at least there was no way to easily navigate to it that we could see. Since the search function is mostly used for the user-generated content on YouTube, there is no good way to find streaming video on the YouTube mobile apps. In our opinion, the best way to view movie or TV streaming on YouTube is via your computer.

Customer Service

YouTube, like all of Google's services, relies on a Help section to answer any questions you have about the service. If you have an individual problem that can't be answered by their FAQs and forums, you can email them, and they will attempt to get back to you within 24 hours. While the service is not quick by any means, they are very helpful when they respond.


While YouTube tries hard to compete with larger movie and TV streaming sites like Netflix and Hulu, they fall short. The selection is lacking. The interface is confusing. The customer service is slow. If you are looking for good, quality streaming, try one of the other sites rated higher on our site.

Compare to Other Online Video & DVD Rentals

Service Details:

Free Trial:None
Monthly Price:$1.99-$4.99 to rent movies; $1.99 for most TV shows
Selection:Some TV shows and movies; mostly random short-clip videos uploaded by users
Video Quality:Ranges from low-res to standard quality
Viewing Options:Streaming through computer
Customer Service:Email

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