After years of expanding into seemingly difficult areas, Facebook is taking another big shot at a new theme. Facebook’s Watch feature, debuted on August 31, is basically a programming guide to episodic shows that will be hosted directly on the site’s platform. The service went live after a three-week beta run.
How will this new feature work, how will it assist online marketing efforts, what is the strategy and will Facebook succeed at drawing an audience? Let’s take a look.
The Watch guide will consist of several hundred shows, featuring scripted, reality, documentary and sports content from various companies and creators. These will be available through the Watch tab and through a new Facebook feature called Show Pages, which is meant to provide specific features for this platform.
Over time the goal will be for anyone to be able to produce a show that has a chance to make it to the Watch feature. Some of the shows are already paid for, while other are still in formulation.
According to Facebook’s publicity efforts, the long-term strategy here is not to acquire or produce content, but rather to demonstrate the “larger ecosystem” of what’s possible in this field. All shows will have a “community” element that lends themselves to discussion and sharing.
At the same time, Facebook is clearly pushing to vie with YouTube as a home for longer-form video. They’re using frequent 15-second ad breaks to steer users to content, and using several connected-TV platforms.
For many years, though, Facebook users have generally consumed smaller bursts of content on the site. Will they be able to draw large numbers for this new feature?
The company is confident it will. Early tests of engagement was more than expected, and one of the primary goals is creating new user behaviors that will make it easier for this kind of video to spread. Facebook will share ad revenue from Watch, with 55 percent going to the creator or publisher. It’s still in the early days of testing midroll ad breaks and other kinds of ads, but there should be multiple options available here.
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