|Facebook initiates new movie rental program|
|Written by Emily Lloyd, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Wednesday, 16 March 2011 23:12|
You can more than just like a movie on Facebook now—you can actually watch it too. Beginning with “The Dark Knight,” Warner Bros. has launched an application allowing Facebook users to rent and watch movies directly on the website.
While renting movies online is nothing new to consumers, being able to rent them on a social networking site is. As movie studios try and find new ways to generate movie sales, using popular websites such as Facebook could be helpful.
“There are two marketing issues here. With a global reach of around 500 million users, Facebook can be a very effective communication strategy and the movie industry has been learning how to use it. For example, most new-release movies have Facebook pages now,” Dave Wallace, assistant professor of marketing, said.
“But there is also a distribution issue. Digital content, in this case movies, is easy to store and broadcast; this raises important questions. What format and platform should be used? How can they make it profitable? Perhaps most importantly — who gets to pocket the profits?” Wallace added.
“We think this is a new frontier in making our films available,” Thomas Gewecke, Warner Bros. president of digital distribution, said in a March 9 Chicago Tribune article.
“We’re going directly to people who are already self-identifying as fans,” he added.
According to Gewecke, Warner Bros. decided to start movie rentals off with “The Dark Knight” because it is one of the studio’s most popular films and has about three million registered fans. Facebook users in the United States can now rent the movie for a period of 48 hours for $3.
According to the Chicago Tribune article, this new feature fits in with Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg’s goal “to make everything social.” He wants Facebook users to be able to participate in many different activities on the site like sharing photos and watching videos.
“I think the idea that this makes watching movies ‘social’ is kind of absurd. If I’m sitting at home on Facebook, I’m not exactly with my friends am I? I’d rather rent a movie or buy one than watch it on Facebook,” Mary Tully, junior social work major, said.
Facebook is the second most visited website, according to ComScore.com, and has over 600 million registered users. Warner Bros. is hoping to use its immense popularity and social tools to promote movies.
“Since the movie studios already have a Facebook communication strategy, hardcore fans are already accustomed to visiting the Facebook pages associated with their favorite movies. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out over the next few years,” Wallace said.
According to the Chicago Tribune article, last year consumers spent $385 million to buy or rent movies online as DVD sales are falling and online viewing is rising.
“I think it’s an interesting idea and I would be willing to look into renting movies on Facebook however, not “The Dark Knight” since I already own it and I know a lot of people do too,” Robert Madsen, senior physical education major, said.
“I’m surprised that something like this hasn’t already happened actually. People have been using Facebook to promote their products forever, it only makes sense to use it to sell movies too,” Jeffery D’Adam, senior criminal justice major, said.