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Facebook’s benefit is that Watch is cross-platform, allowing people to view videos from all their devices, while also being a daily destination for 1.32 billion users.
It’s already become a powerhouse in serendipitous video discovery via the News Feed, and Watch will surely provide enough suggestions to get people hooked on shows they weren’t expecting.
A Watchlist feature lets you subscribe to updates on new episodes of your favorite shows.
Fans can connect with each other and creators through a new feature that links shows to Groups. Users with access will see a TV-shaped Watch button in the bottom navigation bar of Facebook’s main app that opens the new video hub.
Facebook says it plans to roll out access to Watch to more users and more content creators soon, starting with the rest of the U. Facebook admits that “we’ve also funded some shows” as examples, but notes that these are only a small percentage of all the available shows.
“We want any publisher/creator who is interested to be able to create a show in the future,” a Facebook spokesperson tells me.
By hosting original programming, Facebook could boost ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else.
Watch features personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch, plus categories like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh” and “Shows Your Friends Are Watching.” Publishers can also share their shows to the News Feed to help people discover them.
Beyond the Watch tab, you can also discover shows through the News Feed if a publisher you follow posts an episode or friends are talking about it.
That gives Facebook the opportunity to artificially boost the presence of shows in News Feed to build a bigger audience for the new content initiative.
Facebook first launched its dedicated video tab in April 2016, but it only hosted the more generic News Feed videos people were already seeing from Pages and friends.
Now Facebook is in the business of funding original content, initially through direct payments, though it seeks to switch entirely to a revenue-share model in the future to make its original programming effort sustainable.
Facebook’s competitors like You Tube and Snapchat have already experimented with creating original video content.
“So there will be hundreds of shows at launch, and we’ll hopefully scale to thousands.” Business Insider reported some leaked details about the redesign earlier today, but pegged the launch of original programming as starting August 28th, when the shows actually will begin to roll out tomorrow.