Facebook seeks exec to cut deals with Hollywood, Hulu and, maybe, Netflix

editor's corner

Facebook hasn't revealed its plans publicly, but it's a pretty safe bet that at tomorrow's f8 developers' conference in San Francisco the social networking giant will announce a platform that allows users to share what TV shows and movies they're watching. What isn't clear is just how much further the company will go.

Over the past few months, Facebook has announced a variety of partnerships with Hollywood studios to test the site as a distribution platform for movies. Its first deal, with Warner Bros. for The Dark Knight in March, signaled a willingness to work with Hollywood to develop a simple distribution platform that gave the studios control of their content while enabling widespread distribution.

Since that experiment, it has signed mini-deals with Paramount Studios and Universal Pictures. In August, Facebook got a lot friendlier with Hollywood, signing a deal with Miramax that brought 20 titles to Facebook via the Miramax experience, which allowed users to not only watch the content on a computer screen but also on an iPad or Google TV.

Those movies deals are part of a broader experiment with content owners. Major League Baseball showed live spring training ball games, BBC Worldwide committed to showing 10 episodes of its iconic Dr. Who, and that may be just the beginning.

The New York Post Monday reported that Thursday's conference could include an announcement that Hulu would partner with Facebook as well, allowing users to share video content. Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings is on Facebook's board. There have been rumors that the two companies also are looking for ways to work together--a deal would be a big shot in the arm for the beleaguered video distributor.

But Variety posits that Facebook is in the position to evolve its platform beyond those aggregators and offer content directly from Hollywood players to its users.

More fuel was added to that fire today, as Reuters reported that Facebook was in the market for an executive to take the lead in making deals with Hollywood and the music industry.

"They had held the media industry at arm's length for a while. It was: 'We are a platform, come use us all you want but we don't necessarily need to partner with you.' But now the attitude has changed," a source told Reuters. "They realize that one of the next phases in its evolution is to work with the media companies."

Will Facebook have better luck with Hollywood than other big tech companies have had?

While Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has gradually ingrained itself in the Hollywood culture and earned points and respect from industry execs, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) has struggled to make it inside the circle.

I'm betting Facebook has an easier time than either one. Look for it to score big content deals in the coming months--Jim