By Sahil Patel
Starting today, HBO is making the first episodes of both “Ballers,” the “Entourage”-like sports comedy series starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, and “The Brink,” a political comedy starring Jack Black and Tim Robbins, on the social network. The “Ballers” episode is available on Johnson’s Facebook page, while the “The Brink” episode is on the series’ official Facebook page. Both episodes will be available on Facebook, and via the embeddable Facebook video player, for a limited time, HBO said.
It’s the first time HBO has made a full episode of any of its series available on Facebook — though it’s certainly not the first time HBO has done such a thing on any online video platform. Previously, the network has released series premieres and season premieres of shows like “Girls” and “The Newsroom” for free on YouTube — and once, in the case of “The Leftovers,” on Yahoo Screen.
Showcasing both comedies on Facebook certainly expands the company’s sampling efforts, and ideally introduces its programming to new viewers (and potential subscribers). It also helps that, at least with “Ballers,” HBO is delivering the episode to The Rock’s 49 million fans on the social platform. To get people to watch online, HBO will promote the sampling across its Facebook and Twitter accounts, as well as The Rock’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts.
HBO’s move follows that of Amazon, which released the first episode of its new original series “Catastrophe” on Facebook instead of its own streaming platform. As Facebook grows its profile among video creators, producers, distributors, and marketers, more and more networks will follow suit. Which means yet another thing that was once exclusive to YouTube is now also possible on Facebook.
Episodes of both “Ballers” and “The Brink” are also, naturally, available on HBO Now, the network’s standalone streaming video service.