Right now, Facebook’s streaming inventory consists of only one movie: Batman’s “The Dark Knight,” which is available as an online movie rental for three dollars, or 30 Facebook credits. To watch the movie, go to the Dark Knight’s fan page and click the “Like” button. After you do so, you’ll have 48 hours to watch the movie.
Thomas Gwecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution says that offering movies via Facebook is a natural extension of their digital distribution efforts. Additionally, Internet News reports that online viewing is up by 45 percent over last year, which suggests that film fans are ready for this type of service.
You can’t watch online movies without a lot of bandwidth. Vergent Communications offers affordable T1 service nationwide starting at $249 a month.
Industry analysts say it only makes sense for Facebook to step into the world of online content delivery because it already has such a large ready-made audience. According to comScore, Facebook is already among the top 5 video-sharing sites in the United States. “With a massive user base and its own virtual currency, Facebook could yet become a significant platform for paid content, beyond the virutal goods of social gaming, especially via connected TVs,” wrote Forrester analyst Nick Thomas in a blog post about the new service.
But what does it all mean for Netflix, Blockbuster, and Apple? Some analysts believe Facebook could be a competitive threat, but others point out that the delivery models are different. For example, Neflix offers a certain amount of movie views for one low monthly subscription price, whereas the Facebook model offers limited-time viewing priced per movie. Additionally, whereas Neflix downloads are available through devices that are already connected to the television–such as the Nintendo Wii–Facebook users must connect their computers to the television before downloading and watching a movie. (This scenario will, of course, change as internet-connected televisions make their way into the market.)
Sound off: Would you be more likely to watch a movie via Netflix or Facebook? How come?