Facebook Needs Creativity To Look More Like A TV Network

Should Facebook look more like a TV network, say CBS? Maybe it should consider doing so, if it thinks getting into the creative business is a key to growth.

Facebook pulled in $3.7 billion in advertising last year, with the average user spending 12 minutes and 30 seconds per day on the social media site, according to one estimate. Sounds like a lot of time. But many business analysts feel it is nowhere near where Facebook needs to be, considering its new rocketing stock market value.

How can Facebook get people to stick around more? TV networks would tell you there is nothing better than watching a good "engaging" scripted (or nonscripted, for that matter) bit of entertainment.

For example, if Facebook users could watch one 22-minute comedy (otherwise known as a 30-minute comedy) a night, 44 minutes of a drama (also known as a one-hour drama), or another bit of entertainment of a sizable length, Facebook would reach a higher level of consumer daily usage.



Both Facebook and CBS are pretty well fully distributed in the U.S. Facebook has an estimated 225 million U.S. users (850 million worldwide); CBS gets around 290 million U.S. viewers -- virtually the entire U.S. population. Of course, not all "users" use any single medium all the time. For both companies, it isn't about getting more users or viewers, it's about getting more of those people to log on or tune in every day.

The CBS Television Network pulled in around $7 billion in TV advertising revenues (national and local) in 2011, with the average viewer spending more time with the network than with digital media. Overall average TV viewership per person, according to  Nielsen Company data, comes down to 4 hours and 34 minutes (274 minutes) -- with CBS commanding a good chunk of this time. This compares to daily consumer usage pf the Internet, which in its entirety, amounts to 2 hours and 37 minutes (167 minutes).

Facebook seemingly has more promise that older TV networks because, in theory,  it can do what TV networks do, and a lot more -- on any screen. Facebook has heavy interactions with consumers, who have all important interactions with friends and others -- thus creating what could be a deeper, more effective marketing tool.

But to grow, Facebook  might need what CBS -- and other networks -- have been working on for a long time: creating lean-back entertainment content. That's something that  fails nine out of ten times.

TV networks still have the stomach to take the creative hits. The big question is: Can Facebook find the next level of creativity necessary to cement its template as the next great media company?

3 comments about "Facebook Needs Creativity To Look More Like A TV Network ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, February 8, 2012 at 12:59 p.m.

    The key difference between my use of Facebook and CBS is that avoiding TV commercials on CBS takes some effort (DVR playback, or flipping among channels with a two-tuner TiVo), but avoiding display ads on Facebook is incredibly simple. After installing AdBlock on my Chrome browser, my chance of seeing display advertising on Facebook is zero. It works on Firefox, Safari, and IE, too.

  2. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 8, 2012 at 2:49 p.m.

    The difference between watching CBS (now) and FB is that watching CBS on a TV (programmed, timed, TiVo'd, etc.) not everyone person can be reading everything about you and your gotchkas like on FB.

  3. Marla Goldstein from Around The Bend Media, February 8, 2012 at 6:36 p.m.

    I can watch television on my computer. I can watch television on my smartphone. I can watch television on my iPad.

    Doesn't mean I WANT to do those things.

    I want to watch television on my HDTV plasma screen while lolling on the couch, reading something on the iPad, maybe even Facebooking.

    I might even be watching CBS while using FB on my iPad.

    But I'll be switched if I watch television on FB.

    When I watch TV, I'm looking for a much more immersive experience than I get from FB.

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