Facebook Watch takes on YouTube, TV with original shows

Facebook product management director Rob Leathern      Twitter

The Watch feature will be personalized, suggesting new shows - both live and recorded - based on what your friends and communities are watching.

Facebook's jump into TV has been anticipated for months, with the company willing to pay up to $3 million per episode for scripted and non-scripted content. Watch will appear on the same day as Snap reports its critical Q2 earnings - another twist in the ongoing battle between the media platforms.

The social network's director of product Daniel Danker says that "watching video on Facebook has the incredible power to connect people, spark conversation, and foster community".

Facebook intends for the publishers to make money by splitting revenue from ads slot in the videos, or from branding their content. Watch will be available on mobile, on desktop and laptop, and in our TV apps. It has a pinch of machine learning via dynamically curated sections like "Most Talked About" or "What's Making People Laugh". "As more and more people enjoy this experience, we've learned that people like the serendipity of discovering videos in News Feed, but they also want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos". A Watchlist will help users keep track of programs.


In a nutshell, Shows are videos grouped by episode or theme, in contrast to your run of the mill one-off cat videos.

The new Watch platform will be made available to a limited group of Facebook users in the United States, but the whole experience will expand to new people and territories soon.

"We're hoping to see thousands of shows created" as the product gets off the ground, Danker said. According to Facebook, Watch will group together a wide range of shows, from reality to comedy to live sports. It admits that "we've also funded some shows" as examples. There are also shows that give viewers a window to real-life events as they happen, like Major League Baseball games.

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