In a very interesting move, Facebook will debut its first VOD movie, the Batman flick, The Dark Knight. It’s an experiment between Facebook and Warner Brothers.

“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 network.”

The movie will be available for rental for 30 Facebook credits, which equates to $3. Facebook fans will have 48 hours to view the movie. In true Facebook fashion, viewers will be able to “…post comments on the movie, interact with friends and update their status.” In other words, Facebook’s version of VOD will add a social networking hook that competitors will find difficult to replicate.

Warner Brothers is the only announced partner so far. They say more films are on the way and the ability to purchase films is coming too.

For Facebook, it’s yet another way for them to monetize their 600 million members, and become a competitive threat to the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, and maybe, the cable/telcoTV/DBS companies.

For studios like Warner Brothers, Facebook looks to be an enticing distribution channel for their films and TV shows. Individual movies and TV shows already have a Facebook presence with ‘friends’ and ‘likers.’ Giving that captive audience access to actually watch those films only makes sense. Oh, did I mention that Facebook has 600 million+ users.

For now, Facebook access is dominated through PC/laptops and mobile devices. But increasingly, Facebook apps are making their way to the TV, providing a path for Facebook VOD to the TV.

It’s only an experiment for now, but one can only imagine the possibilities. Facebook has a very unique value proposition with regard to video, in that it has direct relationships with individual consumers. Traditional video service providers, and to a lesser extent, OTT upstarts, have relationships with households (for example, it’s unlikely that Netflix has multiple subscriptions within one household, but Facebook certainly does).

That difference is very appealing to the content ecosystem because it allows more direct relationships with individual paying customers as opposed to a single household. It’s a differentiator that means this Facebook VOD experiment is definitely one to watch.

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9 thoughts on “Facebook to Debut VOD Movies, Creates Interesting Value Proposition

  1. At what point does over saturation come into play – you can get these flicks on Netflix, Amazon, cable, DVD, Redbox, on and on. Now Facebook. Seems to be spread too thin for anyone to make money, except maybe the studios.

  2. Interesting indeed. No big worries initially, but once the studios determine they can make more money through this model, game over for the rest of us. Maybe that day will never come – we'll have to see.

  3. if facebook could make just $1 per day from 1/10 of its users, it would generate about 18 billion dollars a year. That's not bad!

  4. What makes this really interesting is whether FB needs content rights for this. I could see a scenario where they don't – you would think the studios would be lining up to make their content available to the FB universe with a revenue split, assuming DRM is tight. Think of the advantage that gives FB – no contentious content rights negotiations, just cashing checks. Sweet.

  5. They’ll have a discovery problem with this. How will people find the content. If FB is serious about this, they will have to launch a VOD store, otherwise it won’t have much impact.

    1. Good point Jim, but I also see the studios pushing people to the Facebook pages of their movies with their huge advertising budgets. Really all they have to do is get people to click Like. Don't be surprised if movie commercials, interactive ads, and trailers now start featuring the accompanying Facebook page.

      Drive as many people to that page as possible, convince them to Like the movie, and now you have potentially millions of consumers to market to over the entire life of that movie. You market the VOD buy, the DVD buy, the T-shirt buy. It's a studio marketer's dream! In this world, a VOD store may not be as necessary.

  6. I tried to do this. I couldn't find the movie. Wasn't sure if it was on WB's page(s). When I finally did find it, it needed access to my profile, allow access to my wall and feed and whatever else Facebook fails to tell you about? How is this OK? I just hope people get a little more assertive about their information. I use facebook heavily, but also control my information flow heavily. Guess that doesn't make any money for facebook, but that's their fault – they never asked me for any.

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