Unveiled in August, Watch represents the social giant’s more ambitious video effort to date. It was designed to complement the various videos that users find in their News Feeds.
“We’ve learned that people like the serendipity of discovering videos in News Feed, but they also want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos,” stated Daniel Danker, director of product at Facebook.
Similar to what consumers have come to expect from YouTube, Facebook is also positioning Watch as a platform for all types of streaming “shows,” from video blogs to live broadcasts to scripted series.
At launch, Danker said there will be hundreds of such shows for users to select. To name a few, author and motivational speaker Gabby Bernstein has her own show, as does the legendary hip-hop artist Nas. Major League Baseball will also be broadcasting a game a week on Watch.
This is new terrain for Facebook, and it’s not yet clear how users will engage with a more structured video distribution approach.
Starting in the U.S., Watch will be available on mobile, desktop and laptop, as well as in Facebook’s TV apps. Facebook then plans to gradually roll out Watch for all of its roughly 2 billion users around the world.
Like YouTube and other video platforms, Watch features a “Watchlist” to help viewers keep up with the shows they choose to follow. Additionally, Watch is personalized to help users discover new shows, organized around what one’s friends and communities are watching.
A “Most Talked About” section, for example, will highlight shows that are presently sparking conversation among users’ social networks.
When people watch shows, they can expect to see comments and connect with friends and other viewers, and well as participate in dedicated Facebook Groups.
While still relatively new, Facebook’s video ad strategy is already showing signs of success. Across its flagship platform and Audience Network, internal data shows more than 70% of in-stream video ads -- up to 15 seconds in length -- are viewed to completion.
The social network increasingly owes its success to video, and analysts agree.
“Facebook’s users are captivated by videos on the platform,” eMarketer forecasting analyst Monica Peart noted in a recent report. “Video, both live and recorded, is a key driver of growing user engagement and advertiser enthusiasm.”
The company's domestic display business is poised to jump 32.1% to $16.3 billion -- or 39.1% of the U.S. display market -- this year.
Peart attributed Facebook’s revenue growth to both usage and time spent, which continues to draw advertisers in ever-greater numbers.