Facebook To Stream Movies

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011 - 4:07pm

Service could cut into profits of Netflix and other companies.

More than half a billion people use Facebook to keep up with friends and family.

Now Warner Bros. Pictures wants to find out if those same Facebook users might use the social website to watch movies.

"The Dark Knight" has earned more than a billion dollars world wide for Warner.

The company is now offering the film for rental online to Facebook's more than half a billion users.

It costs 30 Facebook credits, the equivalent of $3 dollars, with Facebook getting a third of the take.

"If people show interest in watching the Dark Knight, then potentially movie studios will want to offer other movies, either temporarily or permanently on Facebook, and Facebook would love this kind of profit," says CNET.com's Caroline McCarthy.

It's an experiment with lots of potential in the still emerging world of online video.

With more than 20 million subscribers, Netflix has been the front runner in video streaming rentals.

Recently, Amazon has challenged with a similar offering.

If Warner's test with "The Dark Knight" proves successful, it could make Facebook a game changer for online movie distribution.

"It certainly could become a threat as the video business evolves, and you have these 500 million users and the wisdom of friends," says The Hollywood Reporter's Marisa Guthrie.

Facebook users who rent "The Dark Knight" have 48 hours to view it as many times as they want.

Warner Bros. is already saying they plan to roll out other titles both for rent and purchase on Facebook in the months ahead.
 

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