Watch 'Dark Knight' on Facebook ... Netflix Doesn't Like This

a couple watches a movie on a laptop - facebook movie rentalsNow you can view a movie on Facebook, in addition to updating your status, wishing friends a happy birthday and uploading photos from the kids' graduation. Warner Bros. will begin offering movies on demand via the social network for just $3 (or 30 Facebook Credits).

It's just one movie -- "The Dark Knight" -- as a test, but a Time Warner executive implied it's a move to counter Netflix's service that streams content and offers unlimited DVD rentals for $7.99 and $9.99 a month, respectively.
Already the move is being heralded as the end of Netflix. A rush to judgment perhaps, but things move fast in the world of technology and when movie studios get involved, it often means they're trying to nudge the market in a certain direction. It happened with the format wars over VHS over Betamax, DVD over Divx and ultimately with Blu-ray winning over HD DVD. Studios with extensive movie libraries can make or break a business plan.

Facebook has approximately 500 million members, that's a pretty big audience compared to Netflix's 20 million members. Still, Netflix has been the 800-pound gorilla in the entertainment media distribution business, helping to kill Blockbuster which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September 2010 and becoming ubiquitous on new Internet-enabled TVs and gaming platforms that let users stream content directly to the flat screen at home.

"The Dark Knight" is now available to stream from Warner Bros.' Facebook page. Already it has more than 1,000 "likes" and if the test is successful, look for more films to follow. Warner Bros. is using an app developed for its content, not something supplied by Facebook, although Facebook gets 30% of the profits. It's an open platform, making it simple for other studios to join in the streaming fun.

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