Facebook Rolling Out New Video Streaming Feature

Facebook is adding a new “Watch” tab for video streaming to its platform. The Watch tab will feature personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch. Users with access will see a TV-shaped Watch button in the bottom navigation bar of Facebook’s main app.

The tab has a Watchlist feature that lets you subscribe to updates on new episodes of your favorite shows. The tab will also have sub-menus for categories like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh” and “Shows Your Friends Are Watching.” A feature on the tab links shows to Groups to let fans connect with each other and creators.

Once the user has opened an episode, they’ll see all the details about it, along with one tab for joining a live comment reel with other viewers and an “Up Next” tab displaying what will stream after the current episode. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg commented on the new features, saying, “Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive . . . You’ll be able to chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.”

The new platform will be a home for original video content produced exclusively for Facebook by its partners. Facebook wants give people content they can’t get anywhere else so they will keep returning to the platform. Most of the shows that will show up on the service at first are mini-documentaries, reality shows, and sports coverage.

Facebook’s shows will include everything from live event coverage to reality TV to scripted programs. There are apparently no specific content restrictions on swearing or violence beyond Facebook’s existing community standards. Facebook says the shows funded by the company are only a small percentage of all the available shows. Facebook spokesperson said in an interview that “there will be hundreds of shows at launch, and we’ll hopefully scale to thousands.”

Facebook could boost ad revenue by hosting original programming on its platform. The partners will reportedly earn 55 percent of the ad revenue while Facebook keeps 45 percent. The guidelines on where ad breaks can be inserted and how long they can be are still being finalized. Publishers can also share their shows to the News Feed to help people discover them.

Several dozen original shows will launch to a small group of U.S. users on mobile, desktop and Facebook’s TV apps. Facebook plans to roll out access to Watch to more users and more content creators soon. The company intends to expand the feature across the U.S. before expanding internationally.