YouTube has revealed it is getting into the rental business but it's not exactly putting its full weight behind the service.

For a start, it is only allowing the renting of movies in the US – come on YouTube, don't pull a Hulu on us! – and its initial stock of movies will be just five. Not 5,000, or 500 but five.

The rental service is being wheeled out on 22 January to coincide with the Sundance Film Festival.

All the movies up for rent are from the 2009 and 2010 line-up of the festival and pricing will be $3.99 (£2.50). For this you get to keep the films for 48 hours before they disappear into the digital ether.

To pay for the service, you have to set up a Google Checkout account.

New partners

"In the coming weeks we'll also invite a small group of partners across other industries, in addition to independent film, to participate in this new option," says YouTube on its blog, hinting at bigger things to come.

The five films available to watch for a fee – between 22 January and 31 January – are The Cove, One Too Many Mornings, Homewrecker, Children Of Invention and Bass Ackwards.

It will be interesting to see how successful this is for YouTube, We're hoping it's massive as that will mean the 'new option' will come to the UK and maybe the majors will look at the site as a viable option for online movie renting.

Considering the low-key launch, however, we think that Netflix and co can rest easy for the time-being.