HBO Offers Free Streams of 'Ballers' and 'The Brink' on Facebook

'Ballers' (HBO)

June 21 at 10 p.m.

Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Rob Corddry, Omar Benson Miller

From one of the executive producers behind one of the pay cable network's longest-running comedies, 'Ballers' is basically 'Entourage' for the football world. Created by Stephen Levinson and director Peter Berg, the series stars The Rock as a retired NFL player trying to navigate his life off the field.

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HBO is looking to reach a wider audience with new comedies Ballers and The Brink. How much wider? The pay cable network is bucking tradition and offering free access to the series on a platform that isn't its own. Starting Wednesday, the premiere episodes of both will begin streaming on Facebook.

The move is a particularly strategic one for Ballers. The episode will be hosted on star Dwayne Johnson's personal page — which drives formidable traffic thanks to his 49 million followers. The Brink will play on the series' designated page.

Facebook streams, and online sampling in general, is nothing new. It's becoming an increasingly common way to promote a new series, and in some cases, build network confidence. The pilot of USA's Mr. Robot logged more than 2 million streams in the month leading up to its linear premiere, one reason why the network renewed it for a second season before it ever officially premiered.

Ratings are a much longer con for HBO, which now holds off on reporting audience stats until live-plus-7 DVR and full streaming numbers are tallied, but both comedies (Ballers in particular) enjoyed solid same-day debuts this past Sunday.