Facebook Announces “Watch”, Following Several Delays
After months of speculation, Facebook officially announced the rollout of Watch, their streaming video platform. Rumors of the video service, which was called Facebook TV by media sources and industry experts, originally stated the product would be released in June, but was delayed due to various hiccups. But Facebook has now confirmed the service will be released on a small scale in mid-August. According to various media outlets, partners are turning in the first episodes of their shows, and some are already complete.
The new video content will stream outside a user’s News Feed in a new video section. If the venture proves successful, there is some speculation that Facebook could roll out a separate TV app, adding to their current suite of popular apps.
Facebook says Watch is a platform for all creators and publishers. It’s a way for them to find and build a community while earning money for their work.
Featured shows include:
- Shows that engage fans and community
- Live shows that connect directly with fans
- Shows that follow a narrative arc of have a consistent theme
- Live events that bring communities together
Shows featured in the initial roll out of Watch will be short-form with episodes running between 5 and 10 minutes. Facebook insiders who wished to remain anonymous, say that longer, higher-end content will be launched at a later date, but plans are not yet public knowledge.
Watch ads will be mid-roll, similar to the ads that currently play during longer videos on the Facebook News Feed.
The shows featured on Watch will be a combination of user generated content and scripted episodes. Production will be higher-end than YouTube, but will not be on the level of other streaming services, such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO. Content will range from reality to comedy to live sports. Partners so far include media companies like BuzzFeed, Vox, and ATTN.
Keeping Up with The Competitors
Rumors of a Facebook video streaming service came out right around the time YouTube, which is owned by Google, launched their subscription TV service, which offers paying members access to original content and live streaming from major networks from ABC, CBS, NBC, and more.
As Watch will not feature shows with the production value of Netflix and Hulu, it will be in direct competition with YouTube. Which makes sense: Facebook has said they would like videos to be the primary media type on the platform, and in order to achieve dominance in the social media world they need to be able to provide added value, like the video-only platform.
A Piece of the TV Advertising Pie
Many experts suspect the push into the TV space has a lot to do with Facebook wanting a piece of the $70 billion TV advertising market. This explanation also makes sense, especially as ad inventory on the News Feed continues to dwindle, threatening ad revenue growth.
Facebook recently announced the addition of advertisements in their Messenger app to provide more space for advertisers. But as brands continue to recognize the return on social ads, Messenger will only alleviate some of the inventory stress. Watch will provide more room for brands looking for programmatic-esque advertising options in a video format.
It’s likely that the service will eventually evolve into a revenue-sharing model for scripted shows through the mid-roll ads. Facebook is said to have purchased a few shows up front and will recoup those costs through the ad-sharing revenue structure at a later time.
Will People Use It?
One big question is, why would users want to turn to Facebook to watch scripted television? Watch capitalizes on the new model of streaming on the go, where ever you may be.
The release of Watch could be part of a larger move by Facebook to make mobile devices an all-in-one option for connecting with friends and consuming media and entertainment.
Additionally, Watch could be interpreted as Facebook’s way of becoming more than a social network – moving towards a one-stop, online hub for connecting with friends and consuming news and entertainment. This seems to be the trend, merging social media, entertainment consumption, and search engines. Look at Google’s recent updates: a news feed in their search app and featured Business Posts in a brand’s knowledge chart – suggesting that the search engine is positioning itself as a more informative, interactive hub.
What This Means for Marketers
This new update has a few potential implications for marketers. First, it’s providing not only more space for advertising to promote their products and services, but in a traditional TV video format, which many brands prioritize.
Second, it could lead to new paid partnerships through seamless integration with current videos feeds. For example, if the show playing is aimed at teen girls, a make-up tutorial video from a popular influencer could automatically play next. Or, if the show was about food, a quick how-to food video could feature as the sponsored video.
This update might not change everything completely for Facebook. It could simply be a test by Facebook to see if a streaming video feature lifts the number of total and daily users. Similar to the Marketplace section of the app, it doesn’t make or break business, but it does add value for users.
Watch will be rolled out to a few select users in the coming weeks and will likely be launched to all users later this fall.
IMAGE SOURCE: Facebook