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Facebook today debuted a new initiative called Watch to take on TV companies and streaming services like Netflix and YouTube. The social media giant listed three goals for the Watch platform, which will feature both user-generated and original content. It’s intended as a place for creators and publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans, and earn money for their work.
At launch, Watch is available to a limited number of U.S. users on mobile, desktop, and Facebook’s TV apps. The company said the platform will be made available to more people in the U.S. “in the coming weeks” but didn’t elaborate further on timing or global availability.
It’s not just users who will be ramped up slowly — the group of publishers and creators making shows is also limited at this time, though Facebook said it is funding some shows. “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,” CEO Mark Zuckerberg said today in a Facebook post.
Watch will be found in a dedicated tab in the social app, replacing the Marketplace button on mobile. The episodes and videos you see will be determined by the kind of content your friends and everyone else on Facebook are watching. You’ll be able to find the latest from your favorite shows, as well as saved videos, in your Watchlist.
Facebook describes shows as being made up of live or recorded episodes “that follow a consistent theme or storyline.” The company offered examples like a weekly cooking show, a daily vlog, and a set of videos with recurring characters or themes.
Shows to be featured on Watch include Returning the Favor with Dirty Jobs star Mike Rowe, a weekly live Major League Baseball game, and the A&E series Bae or Bail. There’s also Nas Daily, a show where Nuseir Yassin makes videos with his fans, and Kitchen Little, a show where kids tell professional chefs how to cook based on DIY videos they watched.
In conjunction with Watch, Facebook is also introducing Show Pages, which are meant to help people understand what a show is about and encourage them to watch episodes and other related videos and connect with communities that have formed around a show. Just like you can follow people on Facebook and have their social actions show up in your News Feed, you’ll be able to follow shows so that new episodes automatically appear on your Watchlist.
Eventually, creators will be able to monetize their shows through Ad Breaks (partners will earn 55 percent of ad revenue while Facebook keeps 45 percent), which Facebook has already been testing on videos over the past few months. Sponsored shows will be another monetization option.
Other potential content could come from new media companies like Vox and BuzzFeed, who signed a deal with Facebook in May. In June, The Wall Street Journal reported that Facebook was in talks with Hollywood studios to create original programming to reach millennial video watchers.
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