SAN FRANCISCO, United States — Facebook Inc.’s much-anticipated video product will be available beginning Thursday for some US users, featuring short episodic series from content partners such as A&E, Major League Baseball and National Geographic.
The new section of the social network’s application, called Watch, is meant to give users a place to follow and discuss original shows, which can then be shared via their news feed and in Facebook groups, according to Daniel Danker, product director. It will organise shows by what’s most talked about, what friends are watching and what the user is following.
Facebook paid to seed some of the original content that will appear in the section. Among the episodes: “My Social Media Life,” a reality show about internet celebrity David Lopez, and “Great Cheese Hunt,” in which Business Insider seeks out some of the world’s best cheese. Eventually, Facebook will roll out Watch to more users and show producers.
“We’re hoping to see thousands of shows created” as the product gets off the ground, Danker said. “The shows that we helped fund are really a small portion of that, and will be a shrinking portion over time.”
Facebook intends for the publishers to make money by splitting revenue from ads slot in the videos, or from branding their content. The social media giant is just one of many technology companies funding original shows, from Snap Inc. to Google’s YouTube to Amazon.com Inc. Facebook hopes to win a slice of the attention by making the content more social, encouraging commenting and sharing as the shows air.
“The friend features will differentiate it,” said Matthew Segal, co-founder of ATTN, a digital media company. “You can do everything through the prism of your friends.”
ATTN produced a couple of shows for Facebook, a health program hosted by actress Jessica Alba and a modern relationship advice show with Nev Schulman, producer of “Catfish.” Both are short-form, serialised programs that will be made available later this year.
By Sarah Frier and Lucas Shaw; Editors: Jillian Ward and Andrew Pollack