The most popular social network in the world – and the only site whose traffic truly rivals that of Google – will soon go head-to-head with dedicated movie streaming platforms such as Netflix and Hulu. That's the news today from Warner Bros, which announced it would begin to sell streaming content directly through its Facebook page.
"Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people," Warner Brothers executive Thomas Gewecke said in a statement today. "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 first movie to launch on the Warner Brothers Facebook page is the 2008 Batman film "The Dark Knight." Renting it costs 30 Facebook credits – or about $3 – to download, and it remains available for 48 hours. More films are expected to become available this month; according to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook will collect 30 percent on every film rented on the Warner Bros page.
Obviously, the launch of Warner Bros streaming content is good for Facebook – users are likely to stick around on the site longer, after all, in the process driving up traffic and making advertisers very happy. But the news is not so good for Netflix, which lets American consumers stream videos online, and which will now have some new competition.
"Netflix members are already watching more TV episodes and movies streamed instantly over the Internet than on DVDs," a Netflix exec wrote last November, "and we expect that trend to continue. Creating the best user experience that we can around watching instantly is how we’re spending the vast majority of our time and resources."