where the fish are // 22 Aug 2011

Miramax launched their movie rental service on Facebook, because, according to CEO Mike Lang, it's where the fish are.

Initially, Lang also considered a separate storefront for Miramax.com. He quickly shifted gears, explaining in an interview: "We wanted to fish where the fish are. We could have created the most robust Miramax.com in the world and other than my family members, who would be there?"

I'm usually the first one to argue that the fish are actually on the web and Facebook is just a part of the web, but in this case maybe Miramax is doing the smart thing by going with Facebook on this one. First, I have to believe it's a small number of consumers that actually make decisions about what movie to see based on the studio it comes from, so investing in a full blown Miramax.com destination site probably wouldn't have been the brightest move. Meanwhile, if there are fans of the studio they'll find those flicks on Facebook and broadcast rental decisions to their friends.) Second, launching a destination with 20 titles would have been pretty pathetic; but a Facebook app with 20 titles? It's an experiment. Third, they'll get some nice PR out of this by being tied to Facebook...and I bet they probably got some development and co-marketing support from Facebook as well.

The ship has sailed on the studios competing with iTunes / Netflix for owning the customer relationship in any significant way. But look for more apps like this, where Facebook and the studios take advantage of the app platform, social distribution & payment infrastructure of Facebook to put chinks in the armor of Apple & Netflix. Bonus points to the studio that takes advantage of the real-time social aspects of Facebook to juice back catalog titles: Would you spend your two dollars to watch Better Off Dead with your friends?