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Watch out! Facebook allows more access to original video content

Posted on September 1, 2017

 

After last month’s announcement regarding its intention to become a source for new content, Facebook is set to allow first access to its video hub over the coming days.

Dubbed “Watch”, Facebook’s new offensive includes scripted TV-style series, sports events such as Major League Baseball and live shows where the hosts engage with viewers in real time.

Watch will be available through its own tab on the Facebook mobile app and desktop site, and will also receive its own app. This has been in a testing phase with a small proportion of users in the United States for weeks, but Business Insider UK reports that as of yesterday, this has been expanded. The audience will be limited to the US for the time being, but it’s thought that users in other territories will be able to access Watch soon.

The push is a serious effort by the social media site to challenge the supremacy of other streaming sites, such as Netflix and YouTube. It sees scripted content with high production values as a key to capturing and retaining viewers, especially younger demographics that have flocked to image messaging app Snapchat. Should Watch prove to be a hit, it’s also an ideal opportunity to swell its already bursting coffers with cash usually reserved for conventional TV advertising.

Facebook isn’t going it alone in its foray into original content; it’s managed to get some heavy hitters onboard, including Buzzfeed and A&E, an American digital network that’s home to such shows as Bates Motel and Storage Wars. It’s also brought on board ex-YouTube celebrities to provide short-form content, but its hope lay with several marquee shows, including a series by the people behind Humans of New York and an Orlando Bloom-fronted behind-the-scenes peek at Real Madrid football club.

As with everything Facebook, users will be able to see what shows their friends are talking about, and even view comments in real time while they’re watching. Each show will have a dedicated page, and content creators can use these to link to other content such as blogs, and further engage viewers.

Facebook has deep pockets, and has reached far into them to secure the rights to certain shows. Although it’s rumoured to have paid between £3,800 and £15,500 for shorter content, it’s apparent that it’s coughed up millions of pounds for longer, premium shows. The more expensive content will remain exclusive to the Facebook, but others will be able to migrate to other platforms such as YouTube.

At Engage Web, we’re interested to see how this plays out, especially when it comes to UK shores. YouTube has a firm position as a home for original content, especially for digital marketing, but the sheer number of Facebook users may tip the balance.

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