Facebook might just give YouTube and some TV networks a run for their money with the introduction of new video service called ‘Watch’ that also offers all of Facebook’s basic functions.
The current Facebook service will soon be equipped with a ‘Watch’ tab, offering users an array of shows and some even sponsored by the social network itself. What gives this feature an edge is its seemingly personalised content for the user, based on what their friends are watching.
Basic Facebook Functionalities
According to comments by Mark Zuckerberg, the idea is to leverage Facebook’s power at bringing people who like the same things together, and to make watching TV shows more of an experience.
To fund the service Facebook, like YouTube, will need to run adverts on the video service, and a small group of approved publishers will be featured in the ad breaks at the beginning of the service.
One challenge for Facebook will be how it develops the advertising in the service going forward i.e. whether it wants to follow YouTube’s model of breaking up the video-watching experience by showing adverts for a set period of time before the user’s chosen video runs. Many media commentators believe that that it will be difficult for Facbook’s video service not to follow the idea of showing ads before and during videos, both of which can be annoying for users.
From Amateur Clips To Original Content
In terms of content, Facebook’s video service will feature amateur clips, news clips, and possibly some clips that are linked to YouTube. Facebook is reported to have hinted that it may soon produce original content (like Netflix does). This well-timed hint just happens to come in the week that Disney has announced its split with Netflix in order to create its own direct-to-consumer streaming-video services.
Niche and Broad
Facebook appears to be aiming to cover a wide base of consumer interest by picking shows that address both niche and broad topics, and Facebook looks likely to focus on shows that are ‘easy’ watch, and shows that play well on smartphones, such as cookery, fitness, health, and travel shows.
The video channel market (and its TV counterpart) is now a crowded one, and Facebook will be in broad competition with players like YouTube, Netflix, Disney, and various TV networks. It is, therefore, important that each player chooses the right content for its target customer.
Facebook is reported to have partnered with other organisations to help produce content and shows that will be of interest to its target market. These partners include Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, and Group Nine Media. Other measures taken by Facebook to ensure the success of its new service are the setting up an ESPN streaming service for next year (like Disney is doing), and the selection of some shows known to have popular appeal (particularly in the US) e.g. Major League Baseball and a safari programme from National Geographic.
What Does This Mean For Your Business?
For consumers, getting access to another quality channel of easy to watch, factual entertainment shows that is designed with smartphone viewing in mind is good news. Similarly, for programme makers, this will provide another channel to promote their output and to gain loyalty for their shows in the wider marketplace. It is also good news for programme makers of all sizes that Facebook plans to allow anyone to be able to make shows for Watch in future.
From an advertising point of view however, Facebook has only chosen a small number of publishers for the trial period of the service, and this means that content-makers and advertisers are likely to stay with YouTube for the time-being. It is also likely that Google's video streaming site will offer an easier way for vloggers and those outside the mainstream media industry to make money in the short term until Facebook’s Watch gains momentum, and until it becomes clearer what the advertising situation is on the service. For now it’s a case of waiting until its roll-out out beyond the US, which looks unlikely to happen before the end of the year.