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Amazon Premieres "Catastrophe" on Facebook

Facebook is quickly becoming a preferred platform for publishing original content, including news and now entertainment. This week Amazon Studios announced that it will debut the pilot episode of a new series, the British comedy “Catastrophe,” on its Facebook page rather than its own Web site.

Up until now Amazon has always tested new series on the Amazon Prime Instant Video service, allowing members to vote for pilots to be made into full-fledged series. However Amazon has already picked up “Catastrophe” from its British producers in its entirety, so the e-commerce giant is skipping the voting process and simply trying to raise awareness on a large scale -- a purpose for which Facebook is particularly well-suited.

With six half-hour episodes in the first season and a second season on its way in Britain, “Catastrophe” follows the travails of a transatlantic couple -- an Irish woman and an American man -- to forge a relationship when she becomes pregnant following a roommate situation turned one night stand.

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The series will become available on the Amazon Facebook page at 4 pm PT today. Subsequent episodes will appear on the Amazon Prime video service, available to Amazon Prime subscribers (along with Prime’s other perks, including free delivery) for a subscription cost of $99 per year.

The move comes as Facebook takes a growing share of online video from YouTube, long the dominant online video platform. According to Facebook its 1.3 billion users were viewing over four billion videos per day as of April, up from three billion per day just three months before. Wall Street analysts estimate the total revenues from Facebook’s autoplay video ads could reach $700 million this year, compared to an estimated $1.55 billion for YouTube, still the dominant video ad platform.

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