Dark Knight

Could Facebook be the next threat to Netflix?

March 11, 2011: 12:20 PM ET

Warner Brothers Digital Distribution head Thomas Gewecke says the Facebook "Dark Knight" movie-streaming experiment changes the future of online video.

Thomas Gewecke, WDDB president. Photo: Warner Brothers Digital Distribution

Earlier this week, Warner Brothers, a division of Time Warner (TWX) (parent company of Fortune), made a splash when it offered up Batman: The Dark Knight for viewing on its Facebook fan page. Users who "Liked" it and shelled out 30 Facebook Credits, or $3, could watch a Standard Definition stream in the U.S. for up to 48 hours after the initial purchase.

Fast and furious speculation focused more on what the move meant longer-term than the movie itself. Goldman Sachs (GS) analyst Ingrid Chung said Facebook does not pose an immediate threat to Netflix (NFLX) on a short-term basis, but that could eventually change if and when other movie studios follow suit.

Warner Brothers Digital Distribution President Thomas Gewecke doesn't view Facebook as the next big video content provider -- at least not yet. In the company's overall digital strategy, Gewecke refers to it as a test project, an addition to its current strategy, which is to capitalize on the increasing numbers of users consumer media on both Internet-connected TVs, PCs, Macs, and mobile devices. Are they pegging the future of digital media on the backs of Facebook's 600 million or so users? Far from it. Think of it more of as an addition to the company's current offerings. More

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