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Competition! Facebook Deals, Google Offers, Youtube video rentals

Two things to pay attention to today:

1) Facebook is introducing its own version of Groupon and Living Social for its 600-million-strong online social network. It's called Deals and it launches in five cities today: Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco. The online-social-couponing business is hot-hot-hot right now. Even Google -- of course -- is getting into it with its own "Google Offers", which is running a beta in Portland, Oregon, with early plans for New York City, Oakland, and San Francisco. Google, as you may remember, tried to buy Groupon for $6 billion, but got spurned, and now wants to build its own Groupon clone from scratch.

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2) Online video: the streaming wars are beginning. Netflix is currently in the pole position, as it is carried on a broad range of devices, from mobile phones, to PCs/laptops and tablets, to gaming systems. Apple is on the chase with its Apple TV offering, with iTunes movie rentals and downloads. And Amazon Video on Demand is a pretty darn cool service, too -- especially on a Roku player.

But wait -- now we're hearing Google/Youtube is planning a vast expansion of its own paid streaming service for Hollywood movies. The Holy Grail in online streaming is getting early access to movies that just left theaters and are on DVD. Movie companies make money off DVD sales so they don't want to stream them online without meaningful revenue replacement. So if Google gets it right, this could be a big deal. Peter Kafka, of All Things D, confirmed the report and noted that "big studios including Sony, Time Warner's Warner Bros. and Comcast's Universal are on board. So are indies like Lionsgate."

All of this competition is potentially good for the consumer. Let's see how good it can get.

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