Facebook App Shows Premium TV

As expected, Facebook is preparing to take over consumers’ TVs.

The social giant on Tuesday debuted an app that can “broadcast” premium fare on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and similar set-top boxes. “Our video app for TV is a new way to enjoy Facebook videos on a bigger screen,” Facebook’s Dana Sittler and Alex Li, note in a new blog post.

As Facebook’s product and engineering manager point out, the tech titan began letting users stream videos from Facebook to their TVs, last year -- so their announcement is actually an expansion of that effort.

Now, users can watch videos shared by friends or Pages they follow, along with popular live videos, and those recommended by Facebook based in one’s personal interests.



“You can also catch up on videos you’ve saved to watch later, as well as revisit videos you’ve watched, shared or uploaded,” according to Sittler and Li.

Also on Tuesday, Sittler and Li said more Facebook users can expect videos in their News Feed with the sound on. For a time, all videos would stream without sound until viewers tapped a speaker icon.    

Facebook is also making vertical videos more pleasing to the eyes of mobile devices by expanding their preview screen.

Taking a page from YouTube’s app, Facebook users can now minimize the video they are watching to a “picture-in-picture” view, which keeps playing in the corner of their screen while they browse other stories in News Feed.

On the topic of content, word is that Facebook has recently been de-emphasizing live video in its ongoing discussions with publishers. In its place, the company appears to be pushing publishers to create longer, professionally produced video content.

Facebook has also been reaching out to TV studios and other media companies about licensing its own shows, according to multiple reports. The discussions are being spearheaded by Ricky Van Veen, the co-founder of College Humor, who joined Facebook’s executive ranks in early 2016.

The new app adds another dimension to Facebook’s bold video ambitions.

As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a recent earnings call: “I see video as a megatrend, on the same order as mobile.”

To be sure, Facebook doesn’t need Apple or other set-top-box makers to begin exploring new video monetization opportunities. Among other efforts, the company is reportedly readying a mid-roll ad format, which will give brands the opportunity to reach video viewers, midstream.  

For publishers providing the content, Facebook is expected to give them 55% of the mid-roll ad revenue -- the same share presently offered by Google’s YouTube unit.

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