From shopping to finding events and connecting with friends, you can do almost everything on Facebook. Now, the mega-popular social network is taking things a step further by introducing TV programs users can watch directly on the site and potentially creating a new form of television entertainment.
New Video Section
After many delays, Facebook is almost ready to debut its new video section, which will display a mix of original shows, user-generated content, and shows from Facebook’s partners. These videos will air in a separate display from the traditional newsfeed.
Short programs similar to YouTube series will be available in August, and longer shows are expected to follow. According to sources, Facebook recently asked partners to submit the first episodes of their shows for review. These shows will reportedly be shorter, inexpensive programs.
“We’re supporting a small group of partners and creators as they experiment with the kinds of shows you can build a community around—from sports to comedy to reality to gaming. We’re focused on episodic shows and helping all our partners understand what works across different verticals and topics,” said Facebook VP of media partnerships Nick Grudin.
In addition to the partner-created content, Facebook is also funding higher-end TV shows to be launched later, but the details of that project haven’t been publicly confirmed. Facebook has indicated that it is willing to commit to production budgets up to $3 million per episode, which opens the door to a wide variety of talent and television show genres.
These shows will reportedly be higher quality than standard YouTube videos but won’t compete with video producers like HBO, Showtime, and Netflix. The target audience is Facebook users aged 13-34, with a special focus on users between the ages of 17-30. A relationship drama and a game show have apparently already been booked, and a greater variety of shows will likely be announced later.
Long Time in the Works
The project has been a long time coming and has faced multiple delays and setbacks over the years. In 2015, Facebook head of ad product Ted Zagat said that the company thought Facebook will be mostly video within a few years.
Those few years have passed, and the now the company is ready to jump into the world of video. In April 2016 it launched Facebook Live, which allows users to instantly broadcast content, and mid-video ads appeared in February 2017, which share money generated by the ads with the creators.
Now, getting ready to launch a TV service, Facebook has spent the last months compiling a team of TV veterans to tap into their experience and connections to run the project.
It was originally supposed to be launched sometime in June 2017, and the company has acknowledged that more delays are possible between now and the projected August launch.
Facebook’s decision to focus on television isn’t just creative—it’s largely driven by financial profits. The move opens Facebook’s doors to even more revenue and is designed to give the company a bigger cut of the $70 billion TV advertising market. Facebook’s decision to fund the first set of shows allows it to test the waters to see how much money it could profit from a larger run. With a large per-episode price tag, the company is clearly hoping for a large reward.
Always one to look towards the future, Facebook likely won’t stop at traditional video. At this year’s annual developer conference, Mark Zuckerberg showcased a developer’s platform for augmented reality via smartphone technology, which pushes Facebook to the center of the new medium.
Facebook’s new television platform and original shows brings yet another tool to the arsenal of the world’s largest social network. With more people consuming TV online, it could be the perfect fit to catapult the company’s profits and reach even higher.