Earlier this month, Facebook introduced a new Watch tab that displays both recorded and live video content to US-based users. With a Discover option that lets users find new shows and a Watchlist that ensures they never miss the latest episodes of a show that they already follow, this feature makes it effortless for users to watch original content.
Facebook has hosted videos on their platform for a while now, and it’s no mystery that the capabilities have been essential for publishers. So why are the company’s efforts to make watching videos easier such a big deal?
When you look at how Facebook is streaming live Major League Baseball Games each week, along with videos from Nas Daily and National Geographic, it’s clear that they are making a serious push for high-quality, original content. But taking over traditional television is an unlikely outcome for Facebook, as Netflix and Hulu already present enough competition in that industry.
Still, the new Watch tab is an excellent move for users. They can now go to one place and watch all of their favorite videos instead of hoping that something interesting shows up in their stream. Users also have more control over what they watch and when they watch it.
And with sections in the Watch tab called “Most Talked About” and “What’s Making People Laugh,” viewers can easily find the shows that are getting the most comments or laughing emojis. This will help publishers enjoy a significant boost when they produce quality videos. What’s more, the comment stream, like the one for live videos, turns watching into an interactive, community experience.
There is also a section called “What Friends Are Watching,” which lets you join in on conversations with friends who share similar interests. The personalization of the Watch tab is expected to have users watching more videos, since they’ll have access to those that they actually enjoy.
Publishers make out even better, though. To start, Facebook is giving publishers a share of 55 percent of advertising revenue. Videos on Facebook have always been the number one way to create more engagement and draw larger audiences, but monetizing those views has never been easy. Facebook has finally found a way to tap into a direct revenue stream from popular videos.
The section that features videos that friends are watching will work by spreading videos more quickly. As of now, users only see a video that a friend enjoyed watching if they interacted with it. But publishers will soon have the chance to show videos to their audiences’ friends, no matter if those members interacted with it or not. This is expected to bring about a lot more views.
In the grand scheme of things, the biggest advantage for publishers will be what happens next. Facebook’s Instant Articles is still yet to gain traction, but publishers were initially concerned about posting their content on someone else’s platform, and Facebook has always been more interested in increasing the exposure of video content.
If the Watch tab lives up to its expectations, a rivalry could grow between Facebook and YouTube for dominance as a video publishing platform. However, it’s important to realize that Facebook will already have an established community, a potentially large audience set in place, giant rewards for winning laughs or comments, and a strong revenue stream.
Publishers have known for a while now that they should focus on creating video content more than anything else. And thanks to the Watch tab, they now have more of an incentive to do so, since they’ll be able to reach larger audiences and generate higher revenues, all at the same time.