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'The Interview' streams to YouTube, Google Play, Xbox, Sony site

Sony Pictures gets the controversial film online a day before it hits some theaters. Eager viewers can rent the film for $6 or buy it for $15.

Sony's "The Interview" is getting a wider release -- on the Internet.

"The Interview" may get wider distribution thanks to YouTube. Sony Pictures/Screenshot by CNET

The comedy film, believed to be the impetus for the hack that led to the exposing of thousands of Sony e-mails and private documents, became available at 10 a.m. PT today through Google Play, YouTube Movies, Microsoft's Xbox Video and a dedicated Sony-built website, Seetheinterview.com. The film costs $6 to rent and $15 to purchase, according to Sony.

CNN earlier reported that Sony and Google had worked out a deal to distribute the movie on YouTube and Google Play.

Having YouTube on board greatly enhances the profile of "The Interview," which saw its chances of a wide release die out after national movie theater chains declined, in the wake of threats, to play the movie. Google-owned YouTube is the world's largest video site. The deal also marks one of the few times that a major film would debut in both the theater and at home.

"The Interview" stars Seth Rogen and James Franco as a producer and TV personality who get the chance to interview Kim Jong-Un, the leader of North Korea, and get drawn into an assassination attempt.

See also: I streamed 'The Interview' and now I need some eggnog

When Sony first approached Google last week, the search giant said it was "eager to help," but hesitant to get involved. "Given everything that's happened, the security implications were very much at the front of our minds," David Drummond, Google's senior vice president of corporate development, said in a blog post.

But the company eventually came around. "Sony and Google agreed that we could not sit on the sidelines and allow a handful of people to determine the limits of free speech in another country (however silly the content might be)," Drummond said.

The deal isn't believed to be exclusive, according to CNN, and Sony is talking to other partners. Apple reportedly nixed a deal to bring despite a request from the White House.

Apple, Netflix and Amazon declined to comment on their prospects for distributing "The Interview."

The US Federal Bureau of Investigation said North Korea was behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures, although North Korea officials denied the accusation.

Following the hack, threats made against any movie theater that would play the film convinced the major chains to pull out, leading Sony to initially scrap "The Interview." But widespread criticism, notably from President Obama and actors including George Clooney, convinced Sony to release the film in limited locations on Christmas.

Updated at 9:13 a.m. PT with confirmation from Sony and at 9:46 p.m. PT with comment from Google.

CNET's Rich Nieva contributed to this report.