With video looking like gold as a source of ad revenue, the rumors of Facebook launching their own video platform seemed certain to prove true. They have this week, as Facebook unveiled Watch, a tab that will be coming to the web and Facebook’s apps over the next few months.
Watch will end up being more akin to YouTube than to Netflix or Hulu. While Facebook will co-produce some shows (some of which we’ve already heard about) and pay for rights to other shows and events (they’ll get one MLB game per week and LigaMX soccer matches from Mexico), Facebook will open the platform up to anyone who wants to produce their own show, offering an ad revenue split of 55 percent for the creator and 45 percent for Facebook. Those shows can be published to and advertised on news feeds, so if you’re just a regular Facebook user, expect to get a lot of those coming your way.
Facebook will be using their arsenal of advantages to differentiate Watch. They’ll use your friends list to serve up a list of videos that a lot of your friends are watching, and they’ll use all those comments and recently-introduced reactions to group of videos by which are creating the most buzz and which are making people laugh (using the Haha reaction). That’s all tied to Facebook wanting their videos to be more like a full social experience, where viewers will discuss and share their reactions as the show is going on — something that will be most compelling for live events like sports games.
For now, Watch will mostly be home to short-form content and live events like sports — at least at the outset, Facebook isn’t going to try to be an HBO-lite like Netflix. Makes sense — those kind of shows are extremely expensive to produce. Facebook will be gunning for returns on lower-cost videos, and that means a lot of reality shows and sports games that don’t require incredibly expensive licensing deals (don’t expect football and basketball, is what we’re saying).
Like with YouTube, that means there will be plenty of opportunities for young video talent to make a name for themselves. We’d expect Facebook will be trying to keep everything pretty family-friendly, so they won’t totally overlap with the YouTube scene. We’ll start seeing some of these shows as of this week for people who start seeing the Video tab (it’ll be a gradual rollout across the United States before eventually going worldwide). The videos that Facebook is co-producing will debut starting August 28.