Things are heating up in the digital streaming realm as Facebook announced earlier this month that it would launch its own video streaming service, straightforwardly named ‘Watch.’ It’s being branded as a premium service and has partnered with over 30 major content providers including the MLB and NBA, so they’re clearly serious about hosting more than just for friend’s pug on a skateboard video.
Facebook is only introducing Watch to a limited number of users in the U.S. as well as the content creators, presumably to work out any kinks or bugs. It also doesn’t hurt to build some buzz with a bit of exclusivity at first, then unveil the goods once our curiosity has been piqued.
The desktop version, mobile app, and television app will all be featuring Watch, and will include a ‘Watchlist’ to organize shows for viewers. Comments, which is simultaneously one Facebook’s best and worst aspects, will flow just like any other thread. Viewers also have the option of connecting with a select group of friends or commenting within a group, creating the sense of a virtual viewing party.
This is an ambitious move on Facebook’s behalf, as they are taking aim at both scripted shows that run anywhere from twenty something minutes to an hour, and the type of short form shows that dominate YouTube. Facebook has around 1.3 billion daily users while YouTube has 1 billion users, but their advantage lies in the fact that their users watch a mind boggling one billion hours a day.
It’s going to be interesting to see how advertisements play a role in all of this. Zuckerberg has stated that he’s not a fan of ads the beginning of videos, and may be partial to mid-roll ads. One of things that makes Facebook so dangerous to YouTube is their advertising model. YouTube relies on saturation while Facebook’s approach is much more targeted. If content creators are able to make more conversions over at Facebook, we could conceivably see an exodus over at YouTube.
For the foreseeable future, Facebook will be curating the content they feature on Watch. They want to keep it separate from Facebook Live which seems to be where people are creating their own DIY shows. However, if Watch takes off there could very well be an integration of Facebook Live.