HBO teams with Facebook to premiere comedy series

Facebook teams up with HBO
Facebook teams up with HBO   

Facebook is streaming the first episodes of two new HBO comedy series for the first time, following a deal with the television network which highlights the growing importance of video for the Silicon Valley giant.

The episodes of "Ballers," starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and "The Brink," featuring Oscar-winner Tim Robbins, will be hosted on Facebook for a limited time from Wednesday, following their June 21 debuts on TV.

Viewers can watch "Ballers" on Johnson's Facebook page, while "The Brink" has its own page hosting the episode.

It comes amid a big push by Facebook in the video space to challenge the dominance of Google-owned YouTube. Facebook is expected to exceed two trillion video views this year – that's two thirds of YouTube's projected figure for the same period, according to Ampere Analysis.

This, combined with Facebook's 1.44 billion monthly active users, makes the platform an attractive place for HBO to host its premier episodes, in the hope that fans will continue watching the series on its channel.

In addition, Johnson has a massive social-media following through which he is promoting "Ballers." The former WWE superstar has 49 million Facebook fans, 8.86 million Twitter followers, and 18.2 million followers on Instagram. In releasing the episodes on Facebook, HBO is able to leverage this in an effort to draw in a big audience.

However, it's only the first episodes that will be available on Facebook; the remainder of the two series will be available on HBO GO – it's internet TV streaming service – and HBO NOW.

It's not the first time a TV show has partnered with a social media company. The premier episode of HBO series "Silicon Valley" was hosted on video-game-streaming site Twitch, while Amazon showed the premier episode of its program "Catastrophe" on its Facebook page earlier this year.