Facebook has officially given the first look at "Watch," a new tab dedicated to showcasing its lineup of original content. The move signals a step further in the social network's attempts to branch out deeper into video, raking in TV ad dollars while it's at it.
The redesigned video platform launches Aug. 10 for a select few. Content will include original shows directly funded by Facebook and videos from other creators, all neatly laid out in a tab that will become personalized once it learns enough about your watching preferences and habits.
"As more and more people enjoy [discovering videos through friends], 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," said Facebook. Indeed. Last year, it released a dedicated Video tab for U.S. Facebook users, but with Watch, catching up with shows becomes easier.
Facebook users can access Watch anywhere — be it on a computer, mobile, or the TV. As per usual programming conventions, shows will consist of several episodes, either live or recorded, that follow a theme or storyline.
Facebook Original Programming
At launch, several shows will be available, including Nas Daily, which features 1-minute videos about people from all over the world; Gabby Bernstein, a Q-and-A-style life coach program; Kitchen Little, which features kids and chefs working together to cook food; and Major League Baseball, which will broadcast one game per week live on Watch.
Can Watch Become Successful?
If Watch proves a successful venture, Facebook stands to have brand-new source of revenue, and suppose that happens, there will surely come a smattering of more challenging, more engaging programs than the initial lineup to cater to more people looking for diverse programming.
It's hard to predict whether Watch can become Facebook's own Netflix, but there's something to be said about the number of people who already frequent the social network to watch videos in the newsfeed — giving them a proper venue to select what to watch might convince them to remain locked on the site, and that's something YouTube would want to at least consider.
Facebook, however, has a different mindset. In interviews., the company likes to point out the social aspect of its new video platform, saying "[w]hat makes watching Facebook videos special is your friends."
"Video has this amazing power to bring people together and build community," said Daniel Danker, Facebook's product management lead for video. True to its sentiments about espousing a more communal experience when watching, every show has their own comments section, and some even have their own groups so fans can talk about shows or individual episodes in more detail.
Right now, only select U.S. Facebook users can access Watch, but the company plans to launch Watch for more people "soon."