Warner Bros announced that it would become the first Hollywood studio to make its movies available for sale or rental via Facebook. Its first offering: The Dark Knight. Now Warner Bros has added five more blockbuster titles to its Facebook rental catalog: Inception, Life as We Know It, Yogi Bear, and the first two Harry Potter movies.Earlier this month,
The new films will cost between 30 and 40 Facebook credits (between $3 and $4) for a 48-hour rental period. During that time period, you'll have unlimited streaming access to the movie, meaning you can pause, rewind, watch on different computers, and watch numerous times. The movies are purchased and streamed within the Facebook page, meaning you won't have to leave the site in order to watch. You'll still be able to update your status and chat with friends. However, as the video player is Flash, you won't be able to watch your Facebook movies on your Apple devices.
The move by Warner Bros to make its films available to stream via Facebook is an effort to expand the company's digital distribution efforts. The titles released today include a number of very recent movies. Yogi Bear was just released on DVD last week, and Life As We Know It came to DVD in early February.
But the real competition here might not be the DVD rental business: it's likely Netflix and its video streaming service. Certainly renting a movie for $3 to $4 a pop isn't as good a deal as Netflix's $8-per-month streaming subscription. Netflix has more titles, and that $8 gets you unlimited access to them.
However, none of the six titles that Warner Bros has released via Facebook are available to stream on Netflix. (You can get the DVDs in the mail, of course, with the exception of Yogi Bear. New titles have a 28-day waiting period before coming to the movie rental site).
Recent statistics point to Netflix as controlling a major share of the video streaming market - 61%. But despite its success with customers, the movie rental company has frequently butted heads with the movie studios.
Warner Bros has not indicated what its plans are for releasing more movies via Facebook, but it may be looking to sidestep that control that Netflix currently has over the online streaming market.