There's a battle going on for our attention, that no media format is safe from. Video already features heavily in Facebook's news feed, but the social media giant is ramping things up with its new Watch tab, which will be available across its various apps and offers users a dedicated place to view original video content.
Watch builds on Facebook's first foray into a dedicated video space, when it introduced as a Video tab in the US last year. The new platform will be personalized to each user, suggesting shows they might like based on what their friends are watching, with sections like "Most Talked About" and "What's Making People Laugh."
The company says the interaction that takes place on Facebook Live, with people commenting and reacting to videos in real time, was a key consideration in designing the Watch platform. The same elements will be in play here, with users able to watch along with friends and other users, and react to user comments as they pop up.
Watch will feature both live and pre-recorded shows, with Facebook financing a number of originals to get the ball rolling. Among these are Nas Daily, where a film-maker creates daily videos with helps from fans; Gabby Bernstein, where the New York Times best-selling author answers fan questions; and Kitchen Little, a comedy show where kids guide professional chefs through recipes. Major League Baseball will also broadcast a game live each week.
Shows will also feature dedicated Show Pages, which are designed to make it easy to learn what the show is about, view episodes and related videos. Users can also follow shows that they like and get notifications when a new episode is up through their Watchlist. Eventually, these shows will be monetized through ad breaks.
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. This means it won't have the same user-generated, free-for-all feel that say Youtube or Vimeo does, at least to begin with. This seems more like a move on Netflix's or Amazon's grasp on our attention.
To start, Watch will be available to a limited group of people on the US, appearing on Facebook's mobile, desktop and TV apps. Facebook says it will become available to more people in the coming weeks.