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Facebook launches Watch platform for original video

11 August 2017

With almost 2 billion users, Facebook could further disrupt an online video space that's seeing media companies such as HBO offer their content directly to viewers.

Facebook pays NPR and other leading news organizations to produce live video streams that run on the site.

Facebook is not leaving any stone unturned on its quest to become a topnotch tech company, and its latest venture is a redesigned video platform called Watch tab.

Other than its platform, the concept closely resembles TV's model of episodic shows, as Advertising Age notes. Content includes Bae or Bail from A&E, an unscripted series in which couples facing their fears see who sticks it out and who "bails"; Nat Geo's mini-doc series We're Wired That Way and Safari Live; and Tastemade's Kitchen Little, about kids who watch how-to cooking videos and then instruct professional chefs on how to make a dish.

Among the shows Facebook is paying for is Returning the Favour, a show about inspiring people starring Mike Rowe, who was the host of Dirty Jobs. Major League Baseball will also broadcast a game live each week.

"More and more people are coming to Facebook with the intention of watching videos", said Fidji Simo, who leads Facebook's video efforts.

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A new activity feed layout has also been added to the community section, which will offer more content to view. The update also makes changes to the Windows 10 by placing a switch on the Game Bar to toggle Game Mode.

While free online video has proven itself able to support individual stars with devoted fan bases, it's not yet clear whether it can also make highly produced and scripted shows profitable.

Watch will replace the video tab that Facebook introduced previous year. Hosting original programming will boost Facebook's ad revenue and also create more reasons for users to log into and check their News Feeds for interesting and unique content.

The company said it was rolling out Watch to a limited group of users in the United States before a wider release in the future.

For now, Facebook is working with a small group of publishers, but says that eventually it hopes to be a platform for all creators and publishers.

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In a separate blog post, Nick Grudin, VP of media partnerships, said, over time, creators will be able to monetize their shows through Ad Breaks or through branded content (if tagged as such).

Facebook launches Watch platform for original video