Facebook debuts Watch, its home for original shows

Tim Peterson on
  • Categories: Channel: Video, Facebook, Facebook: Business Issues, Facebook: Video, Social Media Marketing, Video
  • Facebook is ready to premiere its attempt to take on YouTube.

    Facebook announced on Wednesday that it will begin rolling out a revamped version of its existing home for videos that caters to the original, episodic shows Facebook has been licensing to make people think of it as a digital video service on par with YouTube, Netflix and Hulu.

    Called Watch, Facebook’s new video hub will be available in its mobile apps, on its desktop site and through its connected-TV apps, but for now only “to a limited group of people in the U.S.,” according to a company blog post published after Business Insider and Mashable reported that Facebook would unveil Watch on Thursday.

    While people already watch a lot of videos on Facebook, they likely don’t think of Facebook as a place to watch video. It just so happens that their Facebook feeds are full of videos (and it just so happens that more videos means more video ads, which means more money for Facebook). Facebook does want people to think of Facebook as a place to also watch video — but the word “also” is key.

    Video can’t completely overtake people’s news feeds because:

    So Facebook created Watch — which you can think of as Facebook’s YouTube in the same way that Instagram is its Snapchat — and which is split into two main tabs: Discover and Watchlist.

    Source: Facebook.

    The Discover tab — which is definitely not named after Snapchat’s home for traditional media content — is the main feed for people to browse among the live and pre-recorded shows that creators and media companies are producing for Facebook, such as Major League Baseball’s weekly game broadcast, Tastemade’s cooking show “Kitchen Little” and vlog-style series “Nas Daily.” People will be able to comment on, react to and join Groups around these shows in the same way they do for Facebook Live broadcasts, and viewers will be able to see those comments and reactions while watching a show.

    In addition to Facebook hand-picking shows to highlight, the Discover tab will also categorize shows within sections according to what people are watching across its social network and how people are reacting to those shows. “You’ll find sections like ‘Most Talked About,’ which highlights shows that spark conversation, ‘What’s Making People Laugh,’ which includes shows where many people have used the “Haha” reaction, and ‘What Friends Are Watching,’ which helps you connect with friends about shows they too are following,” according to Facebook’s blog post announcing Watch.

    Meanwhile the Watchlist tab serves as the Watch section’s DVR. When people opt to follow individual shows, new episodes will be automatically saved to their Watchlist, just like Hulu’s Watchlist.


    About The Author

    Tim Peterson
    Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.