Facebook ecommerce developer Milyoni has added new sharing features to its Social Theater app that lets Pages rent videos to users for Facebook Credits. Social Theater, which powers rentals for Warner Bros’ The Dark Knight and the ACL music festival, now allows users to leave timed comments, share specific scenes, chat live with other viewers, Like brands mentioned in the film, and send discounts on rentals to friends. These improvements can now be seen on the Page for film The Big Lebowski, will enhance the Social Theater user experience, and could help instances of the app spread virally across Facebook, increasing sales for content owners.
Milyoni got the attention of the ecommerce and media worlds when Warner Bros first announced it would rent films from its Facebook Page using Social Theater, and would allow users to pay with Facebook Credits. While it opened a new revenue stream to video content owners, we criticized the app for lacking many of the social feature it added this week. Without these, Social Theater wasn’t taking full advantage of Facebook’s communication channels and built-in audience, hampering sales.
The ecommerce developer has since raised $3 million in Series A funding and partnered with Page management company Vitrue to help brands drive direct return on investment on their social media efforts. It’s also been tapped to power on-Facebook rentals of concerts as well as more Warner Bros films including Inception and Harry Potter. Now it is debuting Social Theater 2.0 with rentals of cult hit The Big Lebowski from the film’s Facebook Page.
Once users opt to rent the film they’re shown a landing page with Like and Send buttons for sharing the app with friends, and a Like Box so they can become a fan of the film’s Page. Users then confirm that they’ll pay 30 Facebook Credits, or $3, for 48 hours of unlimited viewing of the film. They’re giving the option to post a link to the walls of friends that lets them get a $1 discount on renting the film.
While watching the film without going into full-screen mode, they see timed comments — text tied to a certain moment in the film — written by other viewers scroll across the screen. They can add their own comments that are also published to Facebook, though this syndication could be made more explicit to the user.
At certain moments in the film users are are shown prompts to share scenes or popular quotes from to the film to the news feed. This content can be consumed for free by friends right from the news feed, and entices them to click through and rent the film themselves. Users also prompts to Like the Pages related to the film or of brands mentioned in the film, so users get a chance to Like the Page of the film’s main character “The Dude”, and when he asks for a drink of Kahlua, users have the option to Like the alcohol brand.
On the backend, Milyoni has implemented an efficient self-serve admin system that for deployment of the app in less than 24 hours. Admins can also customize pricing, promotion, and app layout.
Social Theater 2.0 is much more engaging and viral than the first version Milyoni launched with The Dark Knight. It gives users a unique, social viewing experience in which they can easily share compelling content and discounts on rentals with friends, and subscribe to updates about the film and related Pages. These elements should allow content owners who license Social Theater to secure more rentals, and help Milyoni turn one-time renters into repeat sales across deployments of its app.