Social TV has come to Facebook, thanks to Ooyala. The online video technology and services company launched Ooyala Social, an HD-quality Social TV service designed to let Facebook users share video with their friends and family while chatting live, discovering new content and watching videos across multiple screens and devices.

The service also allows broadcasters, distributors and production studios to offer viewers access to premium on-demand and live video via Facebook, offering them yet another Web outlet for their content. And Ooyala Social is yet another way Facebook, as well as other social media sites, are looking to gain greater shares of Internet users’ time online.

“Facebook is becoming an increasingly important distribution channel for media companies,” said Bismarck Lepe, Ooyala’s president of products and co-founder.

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“Because of its 750 million monthly unique users, it offers a compelling complement to distributing video online via YouTube. We expect more and more companies to follow the lead of Warner Brothers, Miramax and Netflix as they build direct to consumer video distribution models on Facebook.”

The social TV service supports rentals, subscriptions, purchases and advertising. It also offers group-activated “screenings,” which enables “content owners to unlock specific content if a target number of people log into Facebook to watch,” according to the press release. Ooyala describes the functions of Ooyala Social in the following manner:

  • Discover: Ooyala Social makes it easier for viewers to find relevant content based on their social circles.
  • Share: Users can share what they’re watching and what they “Like” with their friends or “loan” a show for later viewing. Viewers can also chat together through a movie or show.
  • Watch: Viewers can watch seamless video on every kind of screen and device, from tablets, to mobiles, to connected TVs. Ooyala Social also makes it possible to watch content together as a virtual group and gives content owners to the ability to “lock” their content until a preset number of viewers log in to watch simultaneously or buy a movie.
  • Purchase: Users can buy with Facebook Credits, PayPal, a credit card or even their mobile phone number. Content may be rented, subscribed to, or purchased outright.

Ooyala Social is a new facet of Ooyala Everywhere, which is the overarching mover in the company’s multi-device and online distribution strategy. Ooyala Social content can be viewed on tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs, as well as personal computers. Viewers can start watching a program on one device and pick it up again later on another at the same spot.

“With Ooyala Social, we’re combining the power of social with HD-quality video. Users can easily share content, make recommendations to their network, and watch video simultaneously with friends,” Lepe said. “We’ve also integrated Facebook Credits as a payment system for publishers who are looking to launch a video store on Facebook and Facebook Connect so once a Facebook user has paid for content, they can take that experience everywhere.”

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