Social Media Giant Aims to Become Video Powerhouse With Facebook Watch

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Social Media Giant Aims to Become Video Powerhouse With Facebook Watch

Several years ago, Facebook detailed how video would become more important to its business. Since then, Facebook has been investing heavily in video, offering users the opportunity to share and create content across the service. But on Aug. 10, Facebook announced Facebook Watch, a new platform where video producers large and small can post their latest creations. The service will be available on all Facebook apps and clearly an effort to challenge the likes of Netflix, Hulu and all other video only services. Facebook has promised everything from reality shows to live sports. Facebook is determined to establish itelf as a prominent video-streaming competitor.

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Facebook Watch Dishes Up Video Content

Facebook Watch is a new video platform for the world’s most popular social network. The service will allow users to access video content from a dedicated Watch page, where new content will be added on an ongoing basis. There’s also a Watchlist feature, so users can stay abreast of new episodes in their favorite series. Best of all, Facebook Watch will be available to the social network’s users free of charge.

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Shows Can Be Live or Recorded

In what could be a troubling development for services like Hulu and even Netflix, Facebook has said that its service will make available both live and recorded content. That live content will even include regular sporting events, the company said.

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Here’s How Facebook Is Pitching Publishers

Facebook Watch will be available to all publishers, including small independent shops and big-name studios. Facebook hasn’t committed to too many shows yet, but said that both one-offs and episodic programming will be available. The company didn’t say whether movies will be streamed through its service.

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Here's What to Expect

On the user side, Facebook has made clear that its Watch service will appeal to users looking to consume all types of content. Specifically, Facebook said that shows that “engage fans and community” could prove popular. It’ll also look to add “live shows that connect directly with fans,” as well as series that have a traditional “narrative arc.” Facebook has also signed on Major League Baseball to stream one game a week through its service.

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Publishers Will Earn Cash for Their Creations

Facebook said that it intends to monetize Watch so that publishers will generate cash from their creations posted on the platform. Facebook didn’t detail how publishers can expect to make money off their shows, but suggested that those with bigger audiences and more user engagement will generate more cash.

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Watch Will Be Available Everywhere

Facebook is making Watch as widely available as possible. The service will be integrated into all of the company’s mobile apps on iOS, Android, and elsewhere, and it will of course be accessible in the browser. Facebook will also make Watch available in its TV apps for smart televisions and set-top boxes.

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How the User Experience Will Work

Facebook has tried to streamline access to Watch. It’s done so by placing it in a dedicated section within its apps. After starting Watch, users will see a list of featured shows and episodes curated by Facebook. They can also search for content and start following shows they enjoy watching. The shows they follow will be easily accessible in the Watchlist, where users can automatically find the latest episodes and save them for viewing later. When users select a show, it’ll start streaming. They can leave comments, see what’s up next, and of course, play and pause playback.

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User Reactions Matter

User reactions to content could prove to be a critical component in Watch’s broader appeal. Users will be able to post reactions to videos while they’re playing or leave comments on content later. Facebook will also offer dedicated Groups for each show, so folks can discuss episodes. All of those reactions will be used by Facebook to improve its Discovery features and make it easier for users to find content they might best.

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The Potential Impact of Facebook Watch

To be clear, Facebook Watch represents a huge opportunity for the social network, as well as publishers. It could put a major dent in competing services as far ranging as Netflix, Hulu, and Funny or Die. The main reason is Facebook’s size. With more than 2 billion monthly users, Facebook presents the world’s biggest potential platform for video content. Publishers will likely rush to share content on the service and users could consume it on the service they’re already using.

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Here’s How to Get Watch

Facebook is using a stepped process to rolling out Watch. The company said that it will first make Watch available to a “limited group of people in the U.S.” and will roll it out to more and more users as time goes on. Facebook will initially provide Watch access to a “limited group of creators” to kick things off and will again roll it out to others “soon.” Facebook didn’t say when Watch will be available to all of its users and publishers.

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