Warner Bros. has announced that it will be using Facebook to distribute its movie titles. During the initial testing phase, Warner Bros will be offering a selected set of movies for sale or rent via its Facebook movie page. Facebook users would have to use Facebook Credits to buy/rent these movies.
Thomas Gewecke, President of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution said in press conference today that:
Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people. Making our films available through Facebook is a natural extension of our digital distribution efforts. It gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world’s largest social network.
“The Dark Knight”, a blockbuster film by Christopher Nolan, has already been put up on Facebook. The movie can be rented through the movie’s official Facebook page for 30 Facebook credits, or $3, for 48 hours via an app built by Warner Bros. studio. Once the movie is rented or purchased, Facebook users can start watching it in full screen. The movie can be paused if a user wants to log out of Facebook and can be resumed at a later time.
In addition to this, Facebook users will be able to comment on the movie, update their status to let others know about their activity, and even interact with friends while watching the movie. This service is currently available only in the United States. There will be regular addition of movie titles for rental and sale over the coming months.
Although the new distribution mechanism is described as an experiment by Warner Bros, one can easily see success written all over it. Facebook has proved to be an immensely successful platform for games. In return for letting game developers reach out to millions of users, Facebook takes a 30% cut from the virtual credits sold to Facebook gamers. We know for a fact that Facebook will be taking a cut from each of movie rental and sale, the press release by Warner Bros is currently mute on the exact percent of Facebook’s share.
Existing video streaming and distribution sites like Hulu, Netflix have faced a lot of problems in integrating social aspect into their user experience. However, since Facebook is a social network from the ground up, it wont have to wrestle with these issues at all.
The announcement by Warner Bros has already taken its toll on Netflix with shares of the video rental service down over 4% in pre-market trading. However, Netflix might not be the only one that needs to worry, if the Facebook based movie distribution model takes off, revenues of iTunes, and Amazon’s recently acquired Love Film could take a slide.
We are expecting other movie studios to jump the Facebook ship soon, so keep your eyes open.