Looking for a new distribution channel in the face of decreasing DVD sales — and new ways to leverage increasing consumer time spent online — Warner Bros. Entertainment announced it will start renting movies via the popular social networking site Facebook. The first offering will be the 2008 Batman hit, “The Dark Knight.” The choice was based largely on the fact that the film has already been “liked” by 3.9 million Facebook users.
The studio created the rental application independently of Facebook, so the films will be hosted and streamed by a third party.
According to comScore, Facebook was the sixth-most popular video site in the U.S. in January. Despite its growing popularity for streaming video, Facebook has not announced any plans to launch its own paid video service.
Some analysts responded to the news that Facebook could become a serious competitor for Netflix and other online video services.