HBO has announced that the premiere episodes of new comedies Ballers and The Brink will be available to stream on Facebook for a limited time starting Wednesday. The series both premiered last Sunday night, and the network's partnership with Facebook is exclusive: the episodes won't be available on YouTube or through any other streaming platforms, only through HBO's official services (HBO Now and HBO Go). The Ballers premiere is being hosted on star / executive producer Dwayne Johnson's personal Facebook page, which weighs in at just under 50 million followers; The Brink is sitting on its series page, which is decidedly smaller.
This is a big move for both HBO and Facebook
This isn't HBO's first unexpected partnership with an online media giant, nor is it the first time Facebook has hosted original TV programming. The second season of Silicon Valley debuted on video game streaming titan Twitch back in April, and Amazon has partnered with Facebook to natively stream some of its Prime-only pilots (like new Rob Delaney vehicle Catastrophe). But it's still a big move, one that allows HBO to tap into a giant audience of Johnson fans who might not have access to premium cable (or who appreciate a certain degree of convenience). It's even more important for Facebook: this is its highest-profile partnership with a TV network to date, and it validates the power and reach of its native video offerings. If Ballers and The Brink benefit from a tangible uptick in viewership because of this partnership, it could set an interesting precedent for future streaming team-ups all over the TV world.