Hollywood movie studio Warner Brothers is using Facebook to let users stream full-length films through the social networking platform. Initially available in the U.S. only, the service will grant users a 48-hour window to stream a movie for a fee starting as low as $3 -- or 30 Facebook Credits -- and they can pause and restart the movie as needed without losing any functionality. Interestingly enough, Reuters is reporting that this is not a really partnership, but rather a Facebook application that Warner developed on its own, using the website's open payment and technology standards.
So far Facebook's virtual currency has been used mainly in social games on the site, with Facebook taking a 30% cut on transactions. It seems Warner is looking at new ways to bring some extra revenue by embracing technology rather than fighting it. The first movie available through Facebook will be Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight and can be viewed from The Dark Knight's Facebook page itself, which currently has close to 4 million 'likes'.
Additional titles are expected to become available for rental or purchase in the coming months. The studio also began offering mobile-device "app editions" of The Dark Knight and Inception last month. Those editions play the movies within a standalone application for iPhones or iPads, rather than through a service like iTunes or Netflix.
According to Entertainment Weekly, the audio-visual quality on the Facebook video isn’t great at this point, but the social networking site would be wise to work on that front and attract other studios. If the pilot program is successful, Facebook's huge user base could make it a serious contender to Netflix and the like.