Facebook has been toeing the diving board of the internet television-streaming business for several months without jumping into the pool. It certainly has the resources to move into that market, and in a big way if it chooses to do so.
Now appears to be a pretty opportune time, right at the beginning of a new age of internet-based mobile entertainment.
The social network apparently is ready to move after deciding to pick up a canceled MTV show, according to a June 12 report in The Hollywood Reporter. A Facebook spokesperson had no comment on the report June 12.
"Loosely Exactly Nicole," from Nicole Byer, creator of the popular "Girl Code" show, was canceled after one low-rated season (about 360,000 total viewers, dwindling to less than 150,000) on MTV. Facebook reportedly is close to signing a deal to bring it back in house, and without MTV in the picture.
Back in March, reports were that Facebook was starting seeking two kinds of content for its original-video launch: fully owned paid TV-quality series that would cost $250,000 or more per episode, and shorter-form series that would resemble more of a licensing deal using revenue splits.
Not everybody is convinced that Facebook will make a long-term commitment to original television programming. Creators are happy to take Facebook's funding for original video programming, but several existing and potential content partners expressed doubts that the company is committed to short-form shows for the long run.
Facebook is paying for both long- and short-form shows as part of its initiative. With long-form shows, which Facebook would entirely own, the social network is willing to pay as much as $250,000 per episode, which is in the ballpark for low-end cable TV budgets, according to Digiday.
These will amount to only a handful of shows, however, because most of Facebook's deals so far concern short-form programming that runs anywhere between four and 10 minutes per episode. Facebook calls these "spotlight" shows; the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company already has signed up BuzzFeed, Attn, Mashable, Group Nine Media and others as partners.
For short-form shows, Facebook is willing to pay $10,000 to $40,000 per episode, Digiday said. In these cases, the media partner would retain the rights to the show, which they can distribute on their own site after seven days on Facebook or other platforms for 14 days after premiering on Facebook.
The June 12 move is similar to one of Netflix's original-video strategies, bringing canceled shows such as "Arrested Development" and "Full House" back from the dead.
Facebook is looking at about six genres as focus areas for half-hour shows: sports, science, pop culture, lifestyle, gaming and teens; these will likely stream as weekly series.
On the high end, payments for creators could range from low to mid-six figures per episode, along with a cut of the ad revenues and prominent placement on a new video tab in the company's mobile app, THR reported.
The social network is not considering anything to do with covering hard news. Facebook doesn't want to cannibilize its News Feed, which is a place for shorter, newsier content. The company wants to drive users to its video tab for longer content.