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Warner Bros. adds more titles to Facebook

31 Mar 2011
Warner Bros. adds more titles to Facebook

After launching a digital movie rental service via Facebook, Warner Bros Have added a further 5 movies, including two Harry Potter titles and Inception to the line up.

The studio first tested the new service with The Dark Knight on March 8th and whilst the number of views has not been revealed, the introduction of further titles shows that Warner Bros. is keen to keep testing the potential success of streaming direct to the consumer, via 3rd party sites.

The service is currently available in the U.S. only for a rental fee of 30 to 40 Facebook credits per title, which translates to $3 to $4. These prices are in tune with Standard Definition VOD rentals on Cable, IPTV and other online video services. To rent a film, users must first visit the fan page for the movie and then apply their Facebook credits, a virtual currency that can be purchased through their Facebook account.

Viewers will have a 48 hour viewing window and the ability to watch in full screen, pause and resume playing when logging back into their Facebook account. This is limited compared to usual VOD functionality that users have become accustomed to as skip, fast-forward and other features are not available. Further to this, movies can only be viewed from a Facebook window on a PC or MAC - unlike Netflix, who have a huge range of viewing devices (the latest figure given by Bill Holmes, VP of Business Development, Netflix at the IP&TV World Forum was over 400 unique products). However, the venture is still in its early days and more devices, VOD functionality and titles are likely to become available if it proves to be a success.

Warner Bros. states that this is still very much a “test offering of movies” and it is unknown if the studio will release a much larger catalogue of movies, or cease to operate this way - which will undoubtedly depend on the outcome of the endeavor. Although this new service is still far from a Netflix or Hulu proposition, it was not insignificant that Netflix shares fell by 4% when Facebook entered the online TV space.

It will certainly be interesting to see if Facebook become a significant player in the online TV market and also whether other movie studios follow Warner Bros. in their decision to experiment with offering movies direct to the consumer through social networking sites. Another interesting development to watch out for is whether Netflix, and other online video services, will work with Facebook and make their service available through the social networking giant. We will be sure to keep an eye on the results of this trial and any further developments as content owners continue to look to increase revenue from new distribution opportunities.

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