Why It Matters That 1,914 People “Like” Being Able To Stream The Dark Knight on Facebook

At first blush, the decision by Warner Bros to rent movies on Facebook seems a little out of place. Sure, people watch a lot of video (mostly YouTube) on Facebook, but they don't go there to watch two hour movies, right? Well, for now they don't, but with some tweaks, they could start doing so very soon.

As my colleague Nick Thomas said yesterday in his blog post about Facebook's potential as a premium content platform, the future of traditional and social media are likely to be intertwined. Most of us, myself included, have been imagining them blending in the living room, where viewers can access Facebook on any number of devices while watching a movie on the TV. But would people be interested in exactly the reverse? When I checked in on Facebook I found the first evidence that the answer is yes.

A screen capture of a the Facebook fan page for The Dark Knight

You see here that within 11 hours of being posted, 1,914 people liked the idea of watching The Dark Knight on Facebook. This is compared to the 1,433 people who have liked the App Edition of Dark Knight that was announced nearly a month ago. (Don't try this at home; for some reason, the post announcing Facebook viewing has since been removed and I can't check for more recent numbers.)

Why is this? Because if you're one of the almost 4 million people who took the time to indicate you are a Dark Knight devotee on Facebook, it is very likely you already think of Facebook as an awesome place for movies and movie-related activities -- why not go all the way and watch a movie there? And imagine if this eventually extends to all the devices that have Facebook apps on them. Then imagine that Warner Bros. and Facebook make it so you can not only watch the movie in Facebook, but clip, share, and comment on specific scenes or moments. That would immediately give it viral power.

The next big question I had was who holds the customer data, currently a contentious issue in the world of Apple. When I signed up to watch Dark Knight on Facebook (sorry IT department, it was for professional reasons only), this is the screen I got, answering my question quite handily.

Screen shot of facebook request to share data with Warner Brothers

Not only does Warner Bros. get data about me, they get data about my friends (sorry, friends, it was for professional reasons only). This is an infinitely more useful data profile than Warner Bros. will ever get from Apple, Redbox, VUDU, or even Comcast. Talk about your fabled win-win: Facebook gets a new revenue stream and an even stickier experience; Warner gets a new revenue stream and an actual customer relationship.

For this to grow it must extend beyond movies and for that to happen, Facebook has to step forward with a more complete monetization model because as I showed in a recent report, most video content is not paid for directly, but via subscription. If Facebook offered all three video monetization models to its users -- subscription, premium paid, and ad-supported -- it would be the first online video solution that could compete directly with cable.

Comments

Update: Dark Knight FB announcement reposted

For whatever reason, Warner Bros. killed the first announcement from which I grabbed the first screen shot. It was reposted four hours ago and already has 1,256 people interested in it. I'll keep tracking it to see if it keeps rising or if it plateaus. The point of the comparison cannot be overemphasized: the iPad app for Dark Knight has topped out below 1,500 "likes" after nearly a month. Meanwhile the FB viewing experience is rapidly gaining "likes." Makes sense, though: the iPad has 15+ million owners; FB has nearly 600 million subscribers. Which market would you rather market to?

I see other opportunities as well.

Worth noting ... Go Pre is an iPhone/iPod-based FB client actively being designed around kids & sports data while simultaneously ... allowing them to socially network in a whole new way ... to every friend of a friend in our sport. 

Go Pre was conceived back in June 2009, before the iPad. I see more potential ahead. GoSEAN.org has details. I'm working in several directions. Life is full of twists n turns.