Syndicated from Reuters: Technology News
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Facebook Inc on Wednesday made its biggest move to date to compete in the television market by expanding its video offerings with programming ranging from professional women’s basketball to a safari show and a parenting program.
The redesigned product, called “Watch,” will be available initially to a limited group in the United States on Facebook’s mobile app, website and television apps, the company said.
The world’s largest social network added a video tab last year, and it has been dropping hints for months that it wanted to become a source of original and well-produced videos, rather than just shows made by users.
Reuters reported in May that Facebook had signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to produce shows, both scripted and unscripted.
“We’ve learned that people like the serendipity of discovering videos in News Feed, but they also want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos,” Daniel Danker, Facebook’s product director, said in a statement on Wednesday.
Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post that Watch would allow users to “chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.”
Facebook said the shows would include videos of the Women’s National Basketball Association, a parenting show from Time Inc and a safari show from National Geographic. Facebook is already broadcasting some Major League Baseball games and that would continue, the company said.
The company, based in Menlo Park, California, faces a crowded market with not only traditional television networks but newer producers such as Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube as well as Twitter Inc and Snap Inc.
Additionally, according to Variety:
The new tab, as well as the premium content partnerships, are part of a major expansion into video that executives have hinted at for months. As part of that roll-out, Facebook will also make Watch available on desktop as well as via its connected TV apps, a spokesperson told Variety.
Some of the shows will be live, including MLB’s live broadcast of a baseball game every Friday night. And Facebook will introduce a new page type for shows to make it easier to browse and discover episodic content.
However, Watch will initially only be available to a limited number of users in the U.S. as part of a test before Facebook eventually launches it for everyone.
The company envisions to eventually open up its premium video platform to all kinds of creators. At launch, Facebook aims to have several hundred shows on its platform, including the following slate of shows from major partners:
— A&E’s “Bae or Bail,” which Facebook describes this way: “Unsuspecting couples put their relationship and wits to the test as they’re thrown into terrifying scenarios.”
— Brit & Co‘s “Tiny Houses,” a show about — you guessed it — tiny houses.
— Condé Nast Entertainment’s “Virtually Dating,” a show that has couples dating in virtual reality.
— David Lopez’s “My Social Media Life,” a reality TV show about the social media star.
— Golden State Warriors’ “Championship Rewind,” a look at the Warriors’ 2016-17 championship season.
— Hearst’s “Daily Refresh,” a daily news format.
— Univision Deportes‘ “Liga MX,” featuring live Russell Simmonsmatches.
— McClatchy’s “Titletown TX,” a high school football show that Facebook bills as “a real-life version of ‘Friday Night Lights.’”
— MLB’s “MLB Live,” featuring a live blackout-free Major League Baseball game every Friday night.
— MLS and Univision Deportes’ “MLS en Univision” features live MLS games on Facebook.
— National Geographic’s “We’re Wired that Way,” a science show about the way humans tick.
— Nas Daily, a show from travel blogger Nuseir Yassin.
— NBA’s “WNBA All-Access” aims to give a behind-the-scenes look at WNBA stars.
— Tastemade’s “Kitchen Little,” a kids’ cooking show.
— Time, Inc.’s “Celeb Moms Get Real,” a look at how stars who are parents.
— Thrillist’s show about local communities and their #food.
— WSL’s “WSL Surfing Sundays” aims to capture all the best waves and best surfing from World Surf League Championship Tour events.
While Facebook offers live video streaming, this will give users another way to connect and share programs they enjoy while chatting with others about what’s showing on Facebook “Watch”. But with so much competition from those media networks mentioned above to Amazon FireStick TV, Hulu, Apple TV and others the competition for viewers will be a challenge. Hopefully with all this competition, cable news and other more traditional TV media reduce their rates or lose #business.