Facebook launches Watch platform for original video

Facebook launches Watch platform for original video

Facebook is straying further into YouTube territory. The new platform will be personalized to each user, suggesting shows they might like based on what their friends are watching, with sections like "Most Talked About" and "What's Making People Laugh".

The shows that will appear in Watch are a mix of videos that are already popular on Facebook - like Nas Daily, a series that chronicles the travels of a social media star around the world - and original programs funded by Facebook.

Facebook is now working with a select group of publishers and creators who are making shows, its also funding some shows in an effort to "help seed the ecosystem".

Other than its platform, the concept closely resembles TV's model of episodic shows, as Advertising Age notes. The company has introduced Watch, a dedicated home for videos in the social network.

Other shows will be produced by video partners including National Geographic, Time Inc., NASA and the NBA.

Watch will feature both live and pre-recorded shows, with Facebook financing a number of originals to get the ball rolling.

Among the shows Facebook is paying for is Returning the Favour, a show about inspiring people starring Mike Rowe, who was the host of Dirty Jobs.

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The new service will feature some live events that Facebook has acquired streaming rights for, including a weekly Major League Baseball game.

"More and more people are coming to Facebook with the intention of watching videos", said Fidji Simo, who leads Facebook's video efforts.

As The Verge notes, "If successful, Facebook's push into video programming could represent a major new source of revenue for the company, which has begun running out of room to place new ads in in the News Feed".

Facebook says the initial roll-out will be to a limited group of users in the US with plans for wider distribution to follow.

For now, Facebook is working with a small group of publishers, but says that eventually it hopes to be a platform for all creators and publishers. Ad Breaks, which are now in beta testing, are up to 20 seconds long.

In a separate blog post, Nick Grudin, VP of media partnerships, said, over time, creators will be able to monetize their shows through Ad Breaks or through branded content (if tagged as such).

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