The surprisingly strong case for a standalone Facebook Video App

Why only TV? Where is the real Facebook Video App?

Last week Facebook officially announced its Video App for TV, bringing facebook videos to plattforms like the Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV Stick and Samsungs Smart TVs. But why not the Smartphone? Here is the strong case for a standalone mobile Facebook Video App:

The strong case for a mobile Facebook Video App

The video up there is a facebook livestream, edited for YouTube. I do a daily livestream on Facebook, but i count on YouTube as an archive. The reason is simple: Facebook is where you stumble upon video, YouTube is where you go to watch it.

That makes it a fit for livestreams: People browse their Facebook feeds probably dozens of times a day looking for something, anything to entertain them. This could be photo, text or video. Or livestream. People don’t know what they are looking for, when they go on Facebook. They have a couple of seconds or minutes of downtime and seek to fill it. Of course these minutes can quickly extend into hours or whole afternoons — but only if I get catched by something. For example a livestream, where I can interact and have the suspense of something happening. Or a lot of short videos, that I can quickly share with me friends, but seconds after my brain replaces them with the next viral clip, the next dopamine shot.

When I know I have time, I don’t go to facebook

But when I know, I have time to watch video I go directly to YouTube or Netflix for that matter. Because they dedicated their design to enjoy watching video, they make it easy to find interesting stuff and always recommend you the perfect next one.

Yes, Facebook now recommends you the next video after you watched one. But the dedicated, prominently placed video timeline never came. We can also see this in the data. We all know, that Facebook’s (public) view counts on videos are still overrated. And we can see clearly, that what works best are still relatively short videos — because everything else has a terrible retention rate. Facebook just made the “completion rate” of a video one of the biggest factors for its relevance to the newsfeed. This is Facebook once more following YouTube’s path. But right now, people don’t watch long videos because Facebook‘s app design and usecase don’t fit watching long video. They also doesn’t fit with Facebook’s talk of having original TV shows produced for Facebook.

Facebook isn’t afraid of standalone apps

This could all be solved by Facebook’s own Video app. And we all know, Facebook is not afraid to outsource specific functions into it’s own app. We all still hold a grudge against the messenger app we had to put on our homescreen. Facebook also has the Pages Manager and the Ads Manager in the app store. In his justification for outsourcing messenger Zuckerberg said:

On mobile, each app can only focus on doing one thing well.

So they were willing to get rid of all messaging functions within the main Facebook app, especially because they sore people would use it more and for a longer time.

Why not do the same for video?