Face­book en­vi­sions Watch as TV for so­cial me­dia

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - BUSINESS - BY BAR­BARA ORTUTAY

Face­book en­vi­sions its new Watch fea­ture as TV de­signed for so­cial me­dia, a place where users com­ment, like and in­ter­act with show cre­ators, stars and each other - and never leave.

It’s a po­ten­tial threat to Twit­ter, YouTube, Net­flix and other ser­vices for watch­ing video, in­clud­ing old-fash­ioned TV. Yet its suc­cess is far from guar­an­teed.

While peo­ple watch a lot of videos on Face­book, these are mostly shared by their friends, seen as users scroll down their main news feed.

Get­ting peo­ple to see Face­book as a video ser­vice is like Wal­mart try­ing to sell high fash­ion, or McDon­ald’s ped­dling high-end food, said Joel Espelien, se­nior an­a­lyst with The Dif­fu­sion Group, a video re­search firm.

Sure, it’s pos­si­ble, but some­thing is off.

“It’s very dif­fi­cult to change peo­ple’s core per­cep­tion of what your brand is,” he said.

Face­book has al­ready had a spe­cial video sec­tion, but it mainly shows a ran­dom con­coc­tion of “sug­gested” videos. The new Watch sec­tion re­places this. Some U.S. users got Watch on Thurs­day; oth­ers will get it over time.

The idea be­hind Watch is to let peo­ple find videos and se­ries they like, keep up with them as new episodes ap­pear, and in­ter­act with the show’s stars, cre­ators and other fans. Peo­ple’s own tastes, as well as those of their friends, will be used to rec­om­mend videos.

Daniel Danker, a prod­uct di­rec­tor for video at Face­book, said the most suc­cess­ful shows will be the ones that get peo­ple in­ter­act­ing with each other.

“Live does that bet­ter than al­most any­thing,” he said.

Face­book wants to fea­ture a broad range of shows on Watch, in­clud­ing some ex­clu­sive to Face­book. Users who al­ready fol­low cer­tain out­lets, say, Buz­zFeed, will get rec­om­mended shows from those pages.

But Espelien won­ders whether Face­book users will tap (or click) the Watch tab when with an­other tap of the fin­ger they can “click over to Hulu or Net­flix or what­ever.”

Though Face­book might want you to think other­wise, Espelien said there’s no boundary keep­ing you from stray­ing.


This im­age pro­vided by Face­book shows a screen­shot demon­strat­ing Face­book’s new Watch fea­ture, which is ded­i­cated to live and recorded video. The idea is to have fans com­ment­ing and in­ter­act­ing with the videos. The new Watch sec­tion is a po­ten­tial threat to Twit­ter, YouTube, Net­flix and other ser­vices for watch­ing video.

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