By Sahil Patel
Want another signal that Facebook is becoming a bigger and bigger player in video? Amazon has elected to release the first episode of “Catastrophe,” a UK comedy from Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan, for free on Facebook instead of its own video streaming service.
On June 15 starting at 4pm ET, the entire pilot of the series will be available to stream on Amazon’s Facebook page. It will be exclusive to the social platform for a period of 48 hours, before going behind the walls of Amazon Prime Instant Video.
A half-hour comedy, “Catastrophe” centers on an unlikely coupling between an American man and Irish woman who struggle to start the relationship after she gets pregnant. The series stars Rob Delaney, Horgan, Carrie Fisher, and Ashley Jensen, and is produced by Avalon Television and co-produced by Birdbath Productions and Merman.
Making a pilot available for free is not new to Amazon, which traditionally offers pilots of potential original series for free through its streaming service. There, viewers are given an opportunity to rate the pilots, which Amazon uses in some form to determine which shows get full-season pickups.
However, “Catastrophe” is not a traditional “Amazon original series.” It originally aired in the UK on Channel 4, with Amazon picking it up exclusively for the US in January.
Introducing potential viewers to a new show by putting it up for free on a social video platform is also not a new practice. HBO, MTV, and other networks have previously done so for new and returning original series. Most often, though, the platform of choice is YouTube, with the large reach it has to offer. With Facebook’s video business booming, it’s not a surprise that Amazon has elected to use the platform that many see as YouTube’s biggest threat to try and get people watching and talking about its content.