Facebook is looking to outperform its competitors when it comes to original video content with the roll out of “Facebook Watch.” Launched on Aug. 10 to a selective group of U.S. users, the platform offers a new ‘Watch tab’ in the bottom navigation bar of Facebook’s main page, distinguished by a TV-shaped icon. Its content, ranging from live and scripted television to sports and comedy programs, will be cross-platform, allowing users to watch content on their phones, computers and Facebook TV apps.
All types of creators and publishers, either professional or ordinary, community members, have the resources to capture an audience, build a supporting fan base, and earn money for their shows through the service. Publishers will have the choice to insert ad breaks if they seek to earn money from their content, or be ad free. With ads, creators earn 55 percent of the revenue, while Facebook keeps the rest. Shows will get their own dedicated Facebook pages too, creating space for fans to ask questions and interact.
As a day-to-day destination for over 1.32 billion users and home to more than two billion, according to Statista, Facebook is also looking to challenge traditional network television, which has been seeing a decline in viewership. If the original shows catch on, it will give people more of a reason to stare at their screens even longer, and could offer significant revenue for Facebook which could bring in better content creators. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly discussed the importance of building and strengthening what it means to be a community. He believes the having the opportunity to chat and connect with others during episodes creates more opportunities to form them.
When you open the ‘Watch Tab’ you’ll see multiple categories including “What’s Making People laugh,” “Most Talked About” and “What Friends are Watching,” with a range of different shows you can see. As you continue to use it, personalized content with suggested material for you will appear; while content organized around what your friends are watching follows.
Utilizing Facebook Live, people’s reactions and comments to videos are a huge part of the experience, and Watch looks to emulate that. When watching shows, you can join a live comment reel and connect with friends and other viewers. The Watchlist feature at the top of the Watch tab lets you subscribe to updates for new episodes of your favorite shows to help you keep up and never miss out.
As of right now there are no specific content restrictions on violence or explicit language that go beyond Facebook’s existing community standards, but content will be monitored if a show gets flagged. Content longer than 30 minutes is unavailable, averaging 15 minutes or less with the exception of live events and sports. This will likely change as the platform becomes fully available to U.S. users before being trailed overseas.
If Facebook Watch takes off, it could become a home for deliberate video consumption like YouTube Red and Netflix, offering specific shows only available on its platform. Through high quality original content, and as ad spends continue to grow on the web, Watch can only benefit Facebook giving it a way to gain more attention and revenue.