Facebook Announces Partnerships to Expand Multimedia Offerings at f8 Conference

Facebook revealed new ways for users to listen to music and watch TV by integrating services from the likes of Spotify and Hulu (NASDAQ:CMCSA) into the social networking site at its annual f8 developers’ conference in San Francisco on Thursday. The new services will vastly expand the types of activities Facebook users can do on the site, and will allow them to interact with their friends regarding the various media.

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Facebook users will be able to read the title of each song their friends listen to throughout the day, listen to a song along with a friend, read and share news stories, discuss movies and give recommendations, and likely a host of other activities Facebook will soon think of as it partners with many top media outlets.

Among the companies partnering with Facebook are Rhapsody and Turntable.fm, which president and CEO Mark Zuckerberg says are reinventing the music industry and its underlying business models. “They believe that the key to making the music business work isn’t trying to block you from listening to songs you haven’t bought,” said Zuckerberg. The brilliance of their business model is that “it’s trying to help you discover so many songs that you end up buying even more content than you ever would have otherwise,” he said.

Zuckerberg was jointed on stage at the conference by Netflix (NYSE:CEO) Reed Hastings, who is also a Facebook board member. Hastings gave no details on how the streaming-video service will be worked into the new Facebook, but said that he was excited to offer tighter integration between the two.

Also present at the conference were representatives from The Washington Post Co. (NYSE:WPO), who unveiled a Social Reader that will allow people to read and share stories from the newspaper within Facebook, one of the many new features that will likely have Facebook users spending more time on the site, enabling the company to generate more advertising dollars.

The service’s many new features will also allow users to flag content and endorse various web items, which will allow Facebook to be able to collect more data on its users in order to create more targeted advertising, said Hussein Fazal, CEO of AdParlor, a firm that runs Facebook advertising campaigns for various companies. “You’re going to get more relevant advertising to the users, you’re going to get higher click-through rates,” said Fazal. “In the end that means more revenue and more ad dollars going to Facebook.” Facebook generated $1.6 billion in revenue during the first six months of 2011.

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Also at the f8 conference, Facebook introduced an overhaul of users’ profiles. Photos and other personal information will now be arranged into a magazine-like layout, called “Timeline,” which organizes a user’s life by each year they’ve been on Facebook. The new moves come just as Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) new social-networking tool, Google+, is picking up steam. Facebook still accounts for a larger portion of Internet users’ time spent online than any other site.