Facebook's a great way to waste 10-15 minutes. You can catch up with friends. You can let everyone know about the mundane details of your day. And you can learn more about your favorite brands and entertainment content.
Unfortunately, that 10-15 minutes often ends up being a lot longer per day – and, as a result, social media has grown into a viable threat to entertainment companies who are alredy fighting for viewers' attention..
A new Nielsen study finds that Americans spend more time on Facebook than anywhere else on the Web. While there's no real surprise there, the sheer volume of time people are spending is staggering.
In May 2011, we spent 53.5 billion minutes on the site. In other words, in one month, people spent the equivalent of over 101,000 years reading status updates and looking at photos.
Put another way, Facebook's dwell time is higher than that of Yahoo!, Google, all of the AOL sites and all of the MSN/Bing sites put together – with nearly 3 billion minutes to spare.
That's why more studios are looking to monetize that audience. Warner Bros. began offering movie rentals through Facebook in March. Now Miramax is jumping on that bandwagon, utilizing the Ooyala social service, allowing people to chat about the movies with others as they watch.
Facebook (and other, smaller social networks) present an attractive potential audience for video on demand – and an additional revenue stream. So far, though, the experiments have focused on older catalog releases. What many people want to know, though, is when a studio will be willing to try streaming a new home release on the site.
Social networks also present an opportunity. Ooyala's tech lets studios arrange private film streamings/screenings, which could be a low-cost way to run focus groups for trailers or test bonus content for DVD/Blu-Ray.
Facebook represents a wide open world for the entertainment industry. The question is: Who will learn to capitalize on it first?