You may have heard about it on the news recently but what is Facebook Watch? Put simply, it is a video-on-demand service operated by Facebook. Like Amazon, YouTube, and Netflix before it, Facebook has officially started video streaming.
The service launched to a few people in the US on August 9, 2017. It was made available to all US Facebook users at the end of August 2017. In mid-2018, Facebook launched six news programs from partners including BuzzFeed and Fox News. These programs are developed by Facebook’s head of news partnerships, Campbell Brown. They have a rumoured overall budget of $90 million dollars. In late August 2018, Facebook Watch had its worldwide launch.
Like Netflix, Facebook Watch offers personalised recommendations for shows to watch. Categories include ‘Most Talked About’, ‘What’s Making People Laugh’ and ‘Shows Your Friends Are Watching’. Subscribing to a show connects Facebook users with other fans through show-linked Groups. During a show, Facebook users get access to a comment section. Here they can chat with other watchers and friends in real-time.
“You can have a two-way conversation about the content with friends, other fans or even the creators themselves.”
Facebook Watch is free to use but content producers can feature adverts in their videos. Content publishers keep 55% of the ad revenue, with Facebook receiving the balance. The aim of Watch is to make the platform more interactive.
Facebook Watch will now appear as a separate section in the main Facebook app or the Facebook Video app. Watch is available on mobile, on desktop and laptop, and in Facebook’s TV apps.
Facebook’s streaming platform is focusing on original content. It will face competition from Netflix, Amazon Video and BBC iPlayer in the UK. Over the coming months it will be interesting to see what tactics and strategies are employed to reduce the threat of Facebook Watch to it’s more established competitors.
Facebook claim quick growth in the use of Facebook Watch in recent months. That is not borne out in the viewing figures. Facebook Watch doesn’t seem to have gained many users in its first year. A study by The Diffusion Group found that 50% of 1,632 Facebook users surveyed had never heard of Watch. 24% also claimed they had heard of the service but had not used it. Only 14% of respondents said they used the service on a weekly basis.
These statistics may change as the service has now gone global. Whether Facebook Watch will become a success is not yet known. Only time will tell. As a late entrant to the market, they may struggle. The ease of availability of Watch to Facebook users and a high level of personalisation may help it gain a foothold.