Facebook introduced Watch on Tuesday; a new video platform for original content and short-format Shows right within the social network. The service is free and it is similar to rivals like YouTube, in that creators will be able to make money from the videos they make and people can follow them via Groups.
For now, Zuckerberg and co. are playing it safe with a soft rollout in a few key demographics in the United States before a widespread rollout in the whole territory and abroad. Nearly 20 shows are debuting in Watch, with more to come as the platform develops.
The move by Facebook does not seem directly aimed at its longtime contender Snapchat, although it does appeal to some of its target audience in the case of short video series. Live events like MLB games will also have a home in Watch.
We believe it's possible to rethink a lot of experiences through the lens of building community — including watching video. Watching a show doesn't have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.That's why today we're launching the Watch tab in Facebook — a place where you can discover shows your friends are watching and follow your favorite shows and creators so you don't miss any episodes. You'll be able to chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community. We hope Watch will be home to a wide range of shows — from reality to comedy to live sports. Some will be made by professional creators, and others from regular people in our community. We're starting to roll out the Watch tab to a limited number of people in the US, and the plan is to bring it to more people soon. I hope you enjoy!
Posted by Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday, August 9, 2017
What can we watch on Facebook’s Watch?
Right now, there is not a whole lot of appealing content on Watch, but some of the shows already out there for some audiences give us a hint of what we can expect from the new Facebook platform, at least in its early days as it evolves into what users and creators make it to be.
Watchers will find the new video hub in a tab on the Facebook mobile app, desktop site, and smart TV app. From there, it will launch the home page of the platform which, much like YouTube, shows suggestions based on trends like popular shows, what your friends watch the most, and funny videos.
Shows from NASA and National Geographic figure on the list of new content on Watch, while Billboard and A&E have series of their own also broadcasting. MLB fans will get treated to one game per week on Watch, and the rest is pretty much original programming ranging from reality TV to comedy and vlogs.
Will Facebook TV ever be a thing?
With time, most likely yes. The platform is not that much different from YouTube at first, and creators who want to give it a shot get to keep 55% of ad revenue or 100% if they mark their videos as branded content outright. They also get to choose where they want to place the ads.
In the meantime, the main criticism is the fact that there are no stellar titles and big gambles like some people expected; namely long-format dramas, comedies, or series from another genre a la HBO. This, of course, is unrealistic even by YouTube Red’s standards.
The strength of this new media window relies on the massive audience it has right off the bat. Nearly 2 billion people are on Facebook, and developers keep coming up with ways to lure them in for longer and longer stretches of time.
TV is highly appealing to both consumers and social media stars with an established status in the social network. Groups are also an element that plays a role in the success of Watch since they can become dedicated hubs for show discussion or they can launch people and communities into small screen stardom.