Video Pivot: Facebook Introduces Watch
On Aug. 9, social media giant Facebook introduced a new feature that further emphasized the world’s increasing pivot to video. Simply called “Watch,” it’s a platform for shows either live or recorded, which follow a theme or storyline.
According to Facebook Director of Product, Daniel Danker, “Watch is a platform for all creators and publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans, and earn money for their work.”
Facebook is gradually rolling out the feature to a limited number of people in the US, and a limited group of creators and publishers, with the plan to bring the Watch experience to more people “soon.”
So what can this limited number of people watch right now?
Currently, the shows available on Watch include:
- One live Major League Baseball game a week.
- Tastemade’s “Kitchen Little,” a show where kids watch a how-to video of a recipe then instruct professional chefs how to make the dish.
- All Def Digital’s “Inside the Office,” featuring Russel Simmons
- A show that features New York Times bestselling author, motivational speaker, and life coach Gabby Bernstein, as she connects with her fans during live and recorded episodes.
- Billboard’s “How It Went Down,” a show featuring stories from musicians
- The Golden State Warriors’ “Championship Rewind”
- WNBA’s “All Access”
- Univision Deportes’ “Liga MX”
- Nat Geo WILD’s “Safari Live”
- Nat Geo’s “We’re Wired That Way”
- NASA’s “Science @ NASA”
There are quite a few other shows, either from selected creators, or from those funded by Facebook to help seed the ecosystem.
Watch also has a host of Facebook-familiar features and sections like “Watchlist,” “Most Talked About,” What’s Making People Laugh,” and “What Friends Are Watching,” all of which — much like Watch itself, is pretty self-explanatory.
So what’s Facebook’s goal?
According to Danker, the people at Facebook think Watch will be home to a wide range of shows, from reality to comedy to live sports.
And while it’s still unclear if they have YouTube or Netflix in their sights, Facebook VP Media Partnerships Nick Grudin, gave a more concrete bottom line — advertising money.
“Over time, creators will be able to monetize their shows through Ad Breaks,” Grudin said in a released statement. “We’ve been testing Ad Breaks over the past few months, and we will be slowly opening up availability to more creators to ensure we’re providing a good experience for the community.”
Part of the “good experience for the community” includes the live chat and reactions feature similar to Facebook Live, where you can divide your attention between the show and what the people watching it are saying, something Facebook believes is almost as important as the broadcast itself.
Additionally, Grudin said that eventually creators can create sponsored shows using Facebook’s branded content tag.
More about Watch
Watch will be available basically where you can access Facebook — on mobile, desktops, and in TV apps. And if aiming to be on par with Netflix appears to be a stretch, with Facebook’s introduction of Show Pages, it appears YouTube is at least in its sights.
Show Pages basically make it easier for creators to create shows, by putting everything in one place — from publishing episodes, to watching episodes and other related videos, and connecting with communities formed around shows.
“We think creating a show has a number of benefits, like the ability to reach a predictable and loyal audience. People will be able to follow the shows they like, and when there’s a new episode of a show, Facebook will inform the show’s followers and the episode will automatically appear in their Watchlist in Watch.” — Grudin
For now, Watch is essentially Facebook for consistent video content creators. And if all goes to plan and Ad Breaks holds its ground, Facebook hopes for it to be a major revenue stream.
But while Facebook is saying all the right things about nurturing creators and fostering a community built around inventive shows, how long before the algorithm drowns out the organic content with the sponsored ones, just as what has happened with people’s Newsfeeds.
It’s also unclear what the branded content tag actually means — is it just meant to inform people which content are sponsored? Can those content still be monetized through Ad Breaks?
As more and more creators fill the Watch community with less than appealing content, how will Facebook filter out those content, from actual quality programming? As pointed out by Forbes, how long before it gets dominated by content from influencers? And how long before those influencers instruct you on how to create your own content?
If this new development from facebook become a hit, surely, there will be more ways marketers can utilize this platform besides buying ads. Will we see just another Youtube?
These questions will be answered soon enough as Watch gets in the phones of more and more people in the coming weeks. Either way, the honeymoon stage should be exciting times, especially if you’re a fan of video content.