Shopping, texting, game play, and original video content. Can one website really do it all? That seems to be the goal for Facebook. We’re not talking about live streaming, which has become massively popular on Facebook, we’re talking about original TV-like shows similar to that of Amazon, Netflix and Hulu’s original content.
Primetime Television and Facebook Video Content
Facebook made shopping easier with Buy Now buttons on their ads. Their Facebook Messenger app alone has over 900 million users. They’re diving into VR programming with Facebook Spaces. And now they want to tackle primetime TV content.
While many networks are busy fighting it out to secure prime television content, some, like the aforementioned Netflix and Amazon, are also employing a strategy to own their own original content. Facebook is following the original video content trend and in the process hoping to become a video destination just like Netflix and YouTube.
Ever the ambitious platform, it seems that Facebook is actually planning not one, but two, different tiers of video. One tier would look fairly similar to what users are already accustomed to seeing on the site, namely shorter videos, typically five to ten minutes in length, that would have daily episodes. But the second tier would feature content that you’re used to seeing on television in your living room. These videos would have longer run times and a bigger budget with the ability to keep drawing viewers back week after week.
According to insiders, Facebook plans to debut about two dozen shows during their initial launch. As the company looks to push into original video content, the effort is being led by Ricky Van Veen, a co-founder of CollegeHumor, as the company’s global creative strategy chief. And part of Van Veen’s team includes former MTV executive Mina Lefevre, who previously worked on Teen Wolf and other MTV shows. In a quote from Van Veen, “we’re exploring some … original and licensed scripted, unscripted, and sports content. Our goal is to show people what is possible on the platform and learn as we continue to work with video partners around the world.”
The focus for these original content videos will be on the younger generation who have been abandoning Facebook in recent years. These “teen-centric shows” will be a way to lure back users who have left Facebook in favor of Snapchat and other social networks.
One potential show will be a dating show that revolves around virtual reality (VR), blending in nicely with Facebook’s Spaces app. The dating show, created by Conde Nast Entertainment, will have the participants conduct their first date in VR before meeting in real life (IRL). While Conde Nast has confirmed that they have a new video project with Facebook, so far they haven’t given any details.
Facebook is also said to have signed deals with A-list celebs and millennial-focused creators that are already active on Facebook, including Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, and Group Nine Media – which is the holding company for Thrillist, NowThis, and The Dodo. Facebook has also been pursuing sports content, most recently they signed a deal with MLB to show 20 games live this season.
While YouTube has offered many of its original content videos through a monthly subscription service, it appears that Facebook will be paying for these new original content videos with ads. These ads would be similar to the new mid-roll advertisements that users have started to see in the middle of current videos. By using ads to pay for the budget for their new videos, Facebook will be able to offer these shows to everyone on their social media network for free.
While Facebook is looking to purchase the rights to some shows upfront, on the horizon will be a move toward revenue sharing on original content videos. The move to original content also allows Facebook a chance to cash in on brand advertising dollars that are traditionally reserved for television. Current advertisers are also interested in a new way to be seen by a growing number of viewers who are watching their favorite shows on tablets and smartphones.
Facebook in Your Living Room
Facebook Pages already feature a video tab – a revamped version of this tab is where most, if not all, of these shows will be found. Their users will be able to watch wherever and however they please. It has been speculated that this revamping of the video tab has been the source of the delay by Facebook to announce their new original video content plans.
But Facebook has also recently released apps for devices like the Apple TV, which means that users will be able to watch these longer videos on their living room televisions just like primetime TV.
Will users see Facebook as the next video destination? Strong original content seems like it will be the deciding factor. While the exact date for this original content video launch is still to be announced, it could be just around the corner.
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