×

CNN, Fandango Build Facebook Messenger Automated Chat ‘Bots’

CNN and NBCUniversal’s Fandango are among the first in the media and entertainment biz to tap into Facebook Messenger “bots,” which let users get automated info from artificial-intelligence agents.

The CNN bot for Facebook Messenger provides news and information in personalized, private messages. Fandango’s still-in-development bot will provide ticketing — marking the first time users can buy tickets to all movies on Fandango via Facebook — and access to movie information, trailers, showtimes and theater locations.

Facebook unveiled the new Messenger platform and bot features at its F8 developer conference Tuesday. “We think you should be able to message a business in the same way you message a friend,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at the event.

Bots can provide anything from automated subscription content — like weather and traffic updates — to customized communications like receipts, shipping notifications and live automated messages. Facebook says more than 900 million people worldwide use Messenger monthly, and communicate with some 50 million businesses.

CNN was one of the featured Facebook partners for the launch of Messenger bots, along with 1-800-Flowers, weather and travel service Poncho and online retailer Spring.

CNN created its Facebook Messenger bots in partnership with Outbrain. Subscribers to CNN on Messenger will receive a daily digest of top stories within the Messenger app, and the bot also will recommend personalized content based on a user’s preferences.

In addition, users can send text to the CNN bot to get instant news and information about specific topics. For example, sending the message “delegate count” will return a the lead and link to CNN’s latest story about which U.S. presidential candidates have accumulated the most delegates heading into the national conventions.

Fandango plans to launch its bot for Facebook Messenger in May. “The Fandango bot on Messenger will act like a personal concierge, helping fans instantly discover movies and nearby theaters, and for the first time, connect to all Fandango show times and ticketing through Facebook,” said Fandango president Paul Yanover.

Fandango has more than 2 million followers across several Facebook pages, plus channels on Facebook Notify, where it provides movie news, trailers and movie clips, original video and fan art, as well as ticketing offers and promotions.

To prevent spamming by the Messenger bots, Facebook said it has developed a new suite of controls and policies. For example, users will be able to block communications that they don’t want to receive. In addition, the company will have “strict policies for developers and businesses to uphold, and we will have review processes to ensure we carefully evaluate how our community is responding,” David Marcus, Facebook VP of messaging products, wrote in a blog post.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Gabrielle Carteris

    SAG-AFTRA Urges Gavin Newsom to Sign Law Punishing 'Deep Fake' Videos

    SAG-AFTRA National Executive Director David White is urging Gov. Gavin Newsom to sign legislation that institutes penalties for nonconsensual digital sexually explicit videos, also known as “deep fakes.” The legislation, Assembly Bill 602, targets companies and individuals who create and distribute the videos in California without the consent of the individual being depicted. “We urge Gov. [...]

  • Facebook Portal logo

    Facebook Is Launching a Portal TV Device: Here’s What We Know

    Facebook is getting ready to launch a TV streaming device in time for the holiday season, Variety has been able to confirm with multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans. The new streaming hardware will be part of the company’s Portal family of devices, featuring a camera, and combining video chatting with TV viewing and [...]

  • MoviePass card

    MoviePass Shuts Down, With Parent Company Citing Failure to Raise Funds

    MoviePass, the long-struggling theater subscription service, finally appears to be down for the count. On Friday, MoviePass notified remaining subscribers that it would be shutting down the service effective Sept. 14, 2019, because “its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” parent company Helios and Matheson Analytics announced. “The company is continuing [...]

  • Disney Plus - Full Lineup

    How to Browse the Disney Plus Catalog the Company Is Testing in the Netherlands

    Disney began testing its Disney Plus streaming service in the Netherlands this week. Consumers in the U.S. will have to wait until November 12 to get access to the service, but European streaming aggregator JustWatch already makes it possible to browse the catalog available during this beta test. JustWatch is one of a number of [...]

  • JoJo Siwa'The Angry Birds Movie 2'

    Nickelodeon Star JoJo Siwa Gets Her Own Dance-Tour Mobile Game (EXCLUSIVE)

    Fans of JoJo Siwa will be able to join the teen influencer’s dance squad on stage — virtually — in a new mobile game. In “JoJo Siwa — Live to Dance,” players will become part of the Nickelodon and YouTube star’s worldwide tour on her professional dance team and experience what it’s like to be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content