Facebook’s latest attempt to take over the Internet has led to a new video service: Facebook Watch. With videos taking precedence in newsfeeds already, this move is unsurprising. The new social platform will take video content to the next level.
Content on Facebook Watch
Watch will be offering original content (called shows), many of which produced by some of the most popular publishers on Facebook, including Tastemade, ATTN, Nas Daily, Gabby Bernstein, and Condé Nast. It will also air one Major League Baseball game per week, along with a show called Major League “12:25 Live” for a comedic review of baseball with fans. Each show will have its own page where users can find out what the show is about, watch episodes, and find related shows.
Unlike the majority of videos on Facebook, the shows are all made up of episodes following a theme or storyline. Recent research has found that users prefer this format to one-off videos. Plus, Facebook will be funding a small percentage of shows to get the platform off to a good start.
Currently, on Live videos, users can users can comment and react to content. Watch takes this a step further by allowing users to connect during episodes and join groups of people who like the same shows. With this, Facebook intends to turn watching videos into a more social experience. The feature reflects a recent change in Facebook’s mission statement, which says that the company wants to focus more on building meaningful communities.
Competition for Streaming Services?
On the surface, Watch seems like yet another competitor for streaming services like Netflix. It has many of the same personalized elements. For instance, each user receives a Watchlist which features shows that users are likely to enjoy according to what they already follow and other criteria. When you like a show, Facebook lets you know about new episodes.
Users can also discover content through categories like “What’s Making People Laugh?” (determined by the use of the Haha reaction), “Most Talked About,” and “What Friends Are Watching.”
However, there are some major differences between Watch and streaming services. For instance, whereas one aim of Watch is obviously to keep daily users on Facebook platforms for longer, it also has another purpose: to find talent. Content creators will be able to publish their own videos. In this way, Watch is more similar to YouTube than Netflix.
Competition for YouTube
There are many other parallels between Watch and YouTube. The types of videos, for instance. On both, users can record videos live. Plus, Facebook has said Watch will be ideal for users wanting to publish daily or weekly vlogs or sets of videos on the same theme. Categories include reality, comedy, live sports, and documentaries. Interestingly, the current lineup of shows includes no dramas or scripted comedies, such as you find on traditional TV.
Furthermore, creators of shows will be able to monetize using Ad Breaks — a feature Facebook has been testing over the past few months. With Ad Breaks, creators earn 55 percent of the ad revenue generated and Facebook keeps the other 45 percent. Like YouTube, ads are not essential. Users can also create branded content (tagging the name of the sponsor for transparency) or give away content for free.
However, Watch does have several characteristics that make it different from YouTube. For instance, Facebook has access to a wider variety of data about users, as it knows what content users have interacted with on the main Facebook platform. This will help the algorithm find more videos users are likely to want to watch. In contrast, YouTube relies heavily on viewing history, which means it can be quite limited in its recommendations.
Another difference: users go to YouTube with the specific intent of watching videos. In contrast, many are accustomed to watching videos on Facebook on autoplay with the sound off. Some pages on Facebook already produce episodes for series, but most users find these by chance rather than specifically seeking them out.
To thrive, Watch will need to encourage users to head to the platform to find new episodes of shows. The trend toward consuming longer content should work in its favor.
The Release of Facebook Watch?
It is still unclear when Watch will reach the majority of Facebook’s audience. Watch is already live, but it is restricted to a select few users in the U.S. Soon, a limited group will also be allowed to start creating shows. Although Facebook says that Watch will be expanding to more users in the U.S. over the coming weeks, there is no set date as to when the rest of the world will have the chance to join in.
Look out for the TV icon at the bottom of the navigation in your Facebook app. It means Watch is now available to you.