In an effort to break into the video entertainment market, Facebook is introducing a new video platform called Watch. The platform will be made available to a select group of Facebook users today. Everyone else will have to wait to try it.
In making this move, Facebook is most likely looking to open up new sources of revenue. If Facebook Watch catches on, users will spend more time on Facebook watching TV-length videos. That means that users will be exposed to more ads, thus generating more revenue for Facebook. And users won’t be required to pay for a subscription.
According to Facebook, Watch will be special among streaming video platforms because it can make TV-watching more social. Users will be able to comment on videos and to see what videos their friends are watching and commenting on. Each user will be watching alongside all two billion other Facebook users.
Watch will have two main components: a watchlist and a discovery section. The discovery section will be a feed of videos curated for you based on your Facebook profile. It will also suggest videos to you based on your friends’ activity on Facebook. It will include subdivisions such as “Most talked about” and “What’s making people laugh,” which is made up of videos that many people responded to with “Haha.”
Although Facebook has a huge user base, it still has ways to go in the realm of online video. Netflix, Youtube, Amazon, and Hulu have already come to dominate the market. Users may be reluctant to migrate their TV-watching time from those services over to Facebook Watch.
Facebook will offer a wide variety of programming on Watch. Some shows will focus on direct communication with their audiences through social media. Other shows might have long narrative arcs, like conventional TV shows.
So far, the list of programs available on the platform includes Gabby Bernstein, Nas Daily, Returning the Favor, and Kitchen Little, among others. Additionally, Facebook has permission from Major League Baseball to broadcast one game live per week.
Facebook funded these early programs in order to “seed the system,” but it does not intend to continue to fund new shows for very long. Eventually, anyone will be able to post videos to Watch, but they won’t get any money from Facebook to get going. By then, Facebook plans to take 45% of ad revenue from shows on Watch.
You can read Facebook’s statement on the launch of Watch here.
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