Facebook Launches Online Shows With New Watch Platform

The new Watch platform is Facebook’s big to organize online video into marketable shows.

Promising online shows that run from comedy and reality to live sports, Facebook says its new Watch platform will let creators connect with their audiences — and earn money in the process. The social media giant’s plan calls for using ads to monetize video.

With nearly 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. While many of those companies rely on a subscriber model for revenue, Watch would compete more directly with other social networks, such as YouTube, Twitter, and Snapchat, in offering an ad-based service.

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

Rather than being organized by place or profile pages on Facebook, the new content on Watch would be created under a show page — a move that could unite the processes of watching and commenting on TV and other video.

“We think creating a show has a number of benefits, like the ability to reach a predictable and loyal audience,” Facebook’s Nick Grudin, VP of Media Partnerships, wrote of the plan.

Other than its platform, the concept closely resembles TV’s model of episodic shows, as Advertising Age notes. The site reports that the shows “are being created by partners like A&E Networks, Hearst, National Basketball Association, Business Insider, Mashable, National Geographic, Brit & Co. and other outlets.”

Episodes of Watch shows can be either live or recorded. In announcing the platform, Facebook said it has funded several series, including Returning the Favor, hosted by Mike Rowe.

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SOURCE: NPR, Bill Chappell