updated 07:15 am EST, Tue March 8, 2011
Facebook and Warner test credit-based movie rental
Facebook tested a direct media service of its own today through a team-up with Warner. US visitors to the fan page for The Dark Knight can rent the movie using 30 Facebook Credits, or about $3, to watch it directly from the social network. Viewers have the same rights as they do through iTunes or other rentals, including unlimited views for the 48 hours afterwards, full-screen playback and the option of resuming from where they left off.
Warner has promised that renters can still manage their usual social stream while the movie is playing. The movie studio is promising more titles and to eventually have full purchases attached to a Facebook account.
The rollout doesn't constitute a full video service for Facebook but at least represents Facebook willing to support full media purchases from partners. Facebook is one of the largest video services in the world but, like YouTube, depends mostly on amateur video and the ad hits from views rather than commercial content. Warner's experiment opens the door to studios offering their whole catalogs, although the current approach would lead to a splintered service where users have to find movies or studios themselves.
Most commerce on Facebook has been dominated by web games from Zynga and other developers. Music, despite its importance to Facebook through services such as iLike, has usually involved referrals to outsiders.