Channel Five to pal up with Facebook

Richard Desmond’s latest purchase, the UK terrestrial Channel Five, will be the first public broadcaster to strike a deal with Facebook.

In a few weeks the 26 million UK Facebook users will be able to catch up on Five’s broad range of programming, from Australian daytime soap Neighbours to Australian daytime soap Home & Away, all embedded within the social notworking website. Bosses stressed about workers piddling away time at work on Facebook will now have to worry not just about Farmville or poking colleagues, but gripping highbrow programming such as CSI Miami competing with the thrills of Excel spreadsheets.

New Media Age reports that the deal is already “all systems go” and should be launching in the next week to ten days. 

Other broadcasters haven’t taken a hearty bite of the Facebook pie just yet. The BBC Trust reviewed the idea of connecting through Facebook but decided it’s best to keep it at only sharing content rather than dedicated integration. NMA says ITV has been hesitant to get involved with third parties, though it says it is “considering options”. Meanwhile Channel 4 – which led the way with on demand viewing with its 4OD service, soon to be syndicated through the Playstation 3, has said it’s a fan of Facebook and will work closely with it.

An analyst told NMA that the deal’s a clever move for all involved and a total win-win situation – it could also have significant impact on Five’s on demand ad revenue. 

If Five can syndicate its most popular programming through Facebook it may kick start its on demand service – who may not think to head over to Five’s website. It’s the sheeple effect, if Facebook starts to suggest programming you may like and friends start spreading the word through social media likes, it may encourage more end users to tune in.

We wonder if Facebook will be quite as keen to sign up with Northern and Shell’s other popular UK channels: Red Hot TV and Television X.