Warner Bros announced on Tuesday that it is now the first Hollywood studio to offer movie rentals through Facebook.
Starting today, those who "like" The Dark Knight on the popular social website can now hit the "rent" button and watch the flick for 30 Facebook credits ($3.00). Additional movies will be made available for renting and purchasing in the coming months, Warner said.
"Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people," said Thomas Gewecke, President of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. "Making our films available through Facebook is a natural extension of our digital distribution efforts. It gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world’s largest social network."
Warner Bros said Tuesday that customers will have 48 hours to view the film. During that time, they will have full control over playback as with any other online rental (streaming) service. However, Facebook functionality will remain intact, allowing users to post comments on the movie, interact with friends and update their status during playback.
Warner's move now puts Facebook in direct competition with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Apple's iTunes and Amazon's Video On Demand. Redbox is also reportedly bringing its library online with a streaming rental service in the near future.
Back in January, Netflix had reportedly enlisted 20 million subscribers, a huge 63-percent increase in subscriptions from the same time period last year. However once additional movie studios jump on board the Facebook bandwagon, the numbers have a potential to fall, giving way to Facebook's social element over Netflix's "detached" video streaming service.
In addition to a possible boost in traffic as moviegoers once shy of Facebook finally flock to the social website, Zuckerberg & Co will undoubtedly see a tremendous boost in revenue thanks to Facebook's 30-percent cut of all earnings generated from Facebook Credits.
For now, The Dark Knight is the only movie Facebook members can rent. As the overall rental service grows, movie and television studios may find themselves creating specific Facebook channels featuring New Arrivals and genre subcategories. Facebook may also want to incorporate an "invite" button so that renters can ask friends to join the movie for additional real-time social interaction.