Why Major TV Shows Are Dropping Free Episodes On Facebook

As TV viewers can no longer simply be considered couch potatoes with a remote control in their hands, the job gets tougher for show promoters to get their projects seen by potential fans. And while an easy maneuver used to entail dropping a series’ first episode on YouTube, a site that never fails to have millions of eyeballs watching it, you might be seeing a lot more studios using Facebook for first looks ,as the social media giant continues to broaden its strokes.

It seems as if everything that made YouTube a previous leader in the game – from its video capabilities to its massive reach – is now absolutely in Facebook’s wheelhouse, as the company has completely upped the quality of its video side of things. And networks (especially HBO) are paying attention, since there are much higher possibilities of posts getting seen by large groups of same-minded people on Facebook, which is geared for just that kind of media sharing.

Jim Marsh, V.P. of digital and social media for HBO, tells Digiday that it’s up to the networks to evolve at the same level as consumer mindsets, and that these kinds of digital samplings are a solid way to create new fans, as well as introducing new material to current fans. But it’s Forrester Research’s principal analyst James Nail that put it best, though somewhat harshly.

The thing that [Facebook] offers that YouTube doesn’t is an [algorithmic] feed that people check in on multiple times a day. YouTube, it’s still, ‘Gee, I’ve got to go to YouTube and search for stuff and maybe I’ll stumble on to something new.’

HBO recently put episodes up of two of its newest series, the sports-related dramedy Ballers (which brought over 5.5 million views when shared on Dwayne Johnson’s page) and the star-studded political satire The Brink, which got over 855,000 non-Rock-inspired hits. Marsh also pointed out that HBO used Facebook to air the red carpet special for Game of Thrones ahead of its premiere. And he also denied that the network has any plans to bring its shows’ episodes, which will stay up on Facebook for another few weeks, to any other social media spots.

Other broadcast networks have used Facebook for debuting their pilots in the past, and it’s not just traditional TV networks realizing the potential, either. Amazon gave Facebook the first episode of its own newest comedy series, Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan’s Catastrophe.

Admittedly, my attention span was never able to keep up with YouTube, which feels to me like a billion destinations with no paths. So it makes complete sense to me that networks and streaming sites are looking toward Facebook’s model of social media for premiering sneak peaks at episodes. How do you guys feel about it?

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.