Warner Bros. Entertainment said it will start renting movies via Facebook, the latest effort by movie studios to find new revenue sources as consumers buy fewer DVDs and spend more time online.
The studio, owned by Time Warner Inc., created the rental application independently of Facebook Inc., enlisting a third party to host and stream the movies. The first movie on offer is “The Dark Knight,” the 2008 hit Batman movie.
Facebook is taking its first step to connect users with movies and TV shows, with Warner Bros’ “The Dark Knight” now available to rent on Facebook’s website. Should services like Netflix and Hulu worry about Facebook’s massive user base? Peter Kafka discusses with Lauren Goode on digits.
The initiative represents one of the first times that a major media company has used the social-networking site as a means to directly offer movies.
Warner Bros.’ move also indicates that, at least for now, Facebook prefers to simply allow other companies to use its popular platform to set up their own virtual screening rooms, with Facebook taking a cut of sales.
Facebook is becoming an increasingly popular site for uploading and streaming video but the company hasn’t announced any plans to launch a paid video service of its own. It also has done little so far to make money directly from the videos it serves itself. There are no ads before or after such videos, aside from the regular display ads along the right-hand side of the site.
In January, Facebook.com was the sixth-most popular video site in the U.S., with 42 million viewers and an average of 15.4 minutes per viewer, according to comScore Inc. Facebook’s popular video content includes user-generated clips and music videos
Fans who “like” “The Dark Knight” can pay to watch the film using 30 Facebook Credits, costing $3. As it does with all transactions using the currency, Facebook keeps 30% of that fee. Warner said it will be offering new titles down the line. The service went live last Tuesday.