Facebook ‘s empire expands … Warner Bros. Studios’ plan to start streaming its films to Facebook users is taking a bite out of shares of movie-rental giant Netflix Inc., sending its stock tumbling nearly 6% Tuesday.
The proposal, which would allow immediate streaming of the venerable studio’s movies on the popular social-networking service, puts a new wrinkle in Hollywood’s adaptation to a digital world.
Warner is starting out the service by offering screenings of its 2008 hit “The Dark Knight,” which made more than $1 billion in worldwide receipts — seventh on the all-time box-office list. Facebook users who say they “liked” the film can rent the title from its page on the social network. Users would use 30 Facebook credits, worth $3, to pay for the rental.
Warner is calling the venture a “test,” saying it plans to put “selected” films on the site for rental or purchase. Users could watch the film via their Facebook account for up to 48 hours on demand, and be able to start and stop the stream whenever they choose. They could also network with others while watching the film on Facebook.
“Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people,” said Thomas Gewecke, president of the Warner Bros. digital-distribution unit, in a statement. “Making our films available … gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world’s largest social network.”
Facebook, however, insisted that the Warner plan does not constitute a exclusive transaction between the two parties. Facebook said it has consulted with Warner to get its project going, but it helps other content providers do the same, including CBS Corp. (CBS 23.70, -0.02, -0.08%) , Comcast Corp.’s (CMCSA 25.57, -0.02, -0.08%) NBC network and Walt Disney Co.’s (DIS 43.20, -0.03, -0.07%) ABC network, as well as Netflix (NFLX 195.08, -0.37, -0.19%)
Facebook officials said in a written statement: “Right now, more than 400 games and applications use Facebook credits to give people a convenient and safe way to buy virtual and digital goods on Facebook. We’re open to developers and partners that want to experiment using credits in new and interesting ways, and we look forward to seeing what they come up with.”
Privately held Facebook said it gets a 30% cut from every showing via its network.