Universal starts offering movies to rent on Facebook

Universal Pictures is interested in offering movies on Facebook. The movie studio is starting off with renting out The Big Lebowski.
Written by Emil Protalinski, Contributor

Following in the footsteps of Warner Bros., Universal Pictures has started offering movies to rent on Facebook. The movie studio is starting off by letting Facebook users rent The Big Lebowski directly through the movie's Facebook Page in conjunction with the film's HD release on Blu-ray this week.

The film is available for 30 Facebook Credits ($3) for a 48-hour rental window, but only to consumers in the US. The Big Lebowski is rated R and thus can only be rented by Facebook users who are at least 17 years of age.

It's clear that Universal is interested in adding more movies in the near future. The company has partnered with F-commerce developer Milyoni and its Social Theater app that allows Facebook users to rent, view, and interact with movies on Facebook. For The Big Lebowski specifically, users who rent the film can pass along a $1 discount off the rental for up to five friends through Facebook's Buy With Friends platform.

The app integrates social features into all aspects of the movie rental experience:

  • View, Like, share comments, invite, and chat live with other fans across different locations directly from Facebook.
  • View comments and/or likes at specific points of the stream.
  • Easily share movies, concerts, sporting clips or quotes via a message, status update, or wall post.
  • Send discounts to a group of friends using Facebook Credits through the Group Buy feature.
  • Take advantage of incentives that can be applied to future content purchases.
  • Share comments only with friends or broaden to all Facebook users via new privacy sharing options.
  • Experience insider commentary at particular points of the feed from the cast, directors, producers, athletes, promoters, or musicians through new expert views.
  • View in full-screen.

"What Zynga is to social gaming, Milyoni is to social entertainment," John Corpus, founder and CEO of Milyoni, said in a statement. "Social Theater is quickly becoming the most popular social platform for on-demand movies, concerts and other live events deployed on Facebook."

As I've said before, the movie pricing structure on Facebook is still a little steep. $3.00 for a movie isn’t exactly cheap when you can rent it on iTunes for the same price for 30 days (although you only have 24 hours to finish the movie once you've started watching it). Also, don't forget that a Netflix subscription is only $8 per month now in the US and Canada.

Facebook should make a point to partner with multiple movie studios and can convince them to offer aggressive pricing in the hundreds of countries the social network is available in. The social network has the potential to transform the movie industry, but at this rate it's definitely not going to happen.

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