Social Commerce

The Dude Does F-Commerce – Fan-Streaming The Big Lebowski on Facebook [Screenshots]

“What do you for recreation?” “Oh, the usual. I bowl. Drive around. The occasional acid flashback” And a movie on Facebook.

Yep, fans of His Dudeness can stream The Big Lebowski on Facebook with a handful of Facebook Credits (30 ($3)) – courtesy of Universal and Milyoni‘s ‘Social Theater‘ – a Facebook PPV (pay-per-view) streaming app.

The Face-flix movie runs in full-screen mode, and offers a number of social features – sharing of clips, sharing of favorite quotes, personal comments at points in time in the movie, and integrated chat (using LiveStream).  And it uses Facebook’s “Buy With Friends” feature – allowing friends of fans who rent the movie on Facebook to rent the movies themselves at a discounted rate.

It all sounds interesting, but why would fans want to rent The Big Lebowski for 48hrs on Facebook?  Why would they want to stream a movie they almost certainly already own, or could get on-demand with their $8/month all-you-can-eat movie rental subscription?  Three possible answers

  1. Universal are hoping that the social features that Milyoni has built into the social theater app will be enough of a novelty to entice a PPV fee from a proportion of the movie’s 1m fans
  2. Universal are using PPV FB streaming as a PR stunt to promote the new Blue-ray edition of the movie going on sale in traditional channels via links on the movie’s FB page
  3. Universal are looking to learn what is possible, what works – and what doesn’t – with social streaming.  Milyoni has wisely attached a ‘beta’ label to their ‘social theater’ – it’s impressive but a work in progress, and as such may be more of a pilot to test viability and demand

Whatever the actual answer, and it may be a combination of all three, we’re very bullish about the opportunities for PPV fan-streaming in Facebook – whether gigs, sports, movies, launches or other events.  In the next month or so, Milyoni’s social theater will be used for PPV fan streaming of 20-30 other movies.  Expect this space to grow – if the pricing and experience can beat that of Netflix and its $8/month price ticket.

If we were Universal (or Warner Bros who are already renting movies direct on Facebook) –  we’d be looking to offer exclusive fan-content rather than just the regular movie – think fan-featurettes, exclusive out-takes, interviews etc. We believe social-streaming has to find its own differentiated and complementary space to regular rentals – and we think that the answer is to use Facebook as Fan Media – offering special content for fans.

If movie studios were to treat Facebook as fan-media, then adding a Facebook fan-store selling movie merchandise would be a no-brainer too (as would VIP theater-ticketing for fans (as offered by Sony and Disney) and DVD sales on Facebook) and Universal should just do it. Dude.


Chartered psychologist specialising in consumer behaviour, wellbeing and technology. Certified CX professional experienced in Design Thinking. A researcher, writer and speaker, Paul is head of Digital Insight at SYZYGY.

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