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Facebook Makes Alliance with Warner Bros to Stream Rental Movies

Monday, April 4, 2011

In its march to become a portal to the emerging world of social, Warner Bros., is the first major Hollywood studio to unveil an application allowing users to rent and watch movies directly on the popular social media network Facebook, starting with "The Dark Knight".

Warner Brothers, the Hollywood movie-maker on Tuesday said it will begin streaming select movies on Facebook, a move that will enable the social media-networking giant to compete in the online movie-rental market, and to experiment whether the social network's 600-plus million users will be willing to pay to stream new movies from within the social networking site's virtual walls.

Warner Brothers will begin the trial with "The Dark Knight," the 2008 Batman movie from Christoper Nolan, and Facebook users will have to dole out 30 Facebook credits (about $3) to watch the movie. To rent the movie, Facebook users in the United States have to visit the movie's Facebook page, and start watching the movie from there.

The studio says that fresh titles will be posted soon and that it was a no-brainer to start offering video streaming rentals through Facebook. Moreover, the rental period lasts for 48 hours--twice the standard from other streaming services -- and users will have full Facebook functionality during the viewing experience, including the ability to post comments, status updates and interact with their friends. The program is only available to consumers in the U.S.

"Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people," said Thomas Gewecke, President of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. "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 media network."

The move marks a memorable association between Hollywood and such social networking sites, it is one of the first times that a major media company has used Facebook as a means to directly sell digital media. Although Executives hope it will pave a new way for the entertainment company to make money. But if it proves successful it could roll out to other countries around the world including the UK.

"LIKE" IT? Warner picked "The Dark Knight" as a launch offering because it is so popular, with nearly 3 million registered fans.

Warner Bros was not immediately available for additional comment.

The latest alliance puts Facebook in greater competition with Netflix Inc. and other tech companies competing for positioning in the ever-flourishing online-video-services market. It also comes as movie studios are increasingly testing new methods of distribution for their movies. However, the deal is not exclusive. The movie is also available to rent from Netflix as a DVD, but it cannot be streamed.

Other companies competing to claim their share includes Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Hulu LLC, have also invested in online-video services amid the rise of digital media. Hulu is a joint venture owned by News Corp., Walt Disney Co., Comcast Corp.'s NBCUniversal, Providence Equity Partners and Hulu employees. News Corp. is the owner of Dow Jones, publisher of this newswire.

Nevertheless, Netflix has become a dominant player in home-video rentals, offering unlimited one-at-a-time DVD rentals by mail for $9.99 a month or instantly streamed movies via the Internet for $7.99 a month. The service offers online registration via Facebook.

However, it is pretty obscure from the announcement whether a particular browser is needed or whether the playback requires Flash. Although, it is obvious that Facebook is willing to experiment to find new ways to expand its empire by letting outsiders come inside Facebook's borders. For its part, Facebook says the new movie streaming is not a deal with Warner Brothers -- just that it is a fairly open platform that allows experimentation.

In a statement that may suggest further collaborations, a spokesperson for Facebook told the Telegraph: "Right now, more than 400 games and applications use Facebook Credits to give people a safe way to buy virtual and digital goods on Facebook. We are open to developers and partners that want to experiment using credits in new and interesting ways, and we look forward to seeing what they come up with."

Source from : eBrandz
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