Facebook Video was announced for release today for several major TV platforms: Amazon Fire TV, Samsung Smart TV, and Apple TV. What’s missing from that list is Google’s Android TV – which is surprising. Especially given the staying power of the Android TV platform and the fact that Amazon Fire TV is so extremely similar at its base. It’s also strange given the attention Facebook has paid to Google’s video products before – like Facebook’s ability to stream from a smartphone to a Chromecast of Android TV device (which has Chromecast ability within).
Facebook’s Dana Sittler, Product Manager, and Alex Li, Engineering Manager, spoke on the new app this afternoon. “With the app, you can watch videos shared by friends or Pages you follow, top live videos from around the world, and recommended videos based on your interests.” This app also allows users to watch a list of videos saved to a “watch later” list and has a “recently watched” list of sorts.
In other words, it seems like Facebook is once again encroaching in on Google’s YouTube space. They’ve got a long way to go if they’re going to get there. For now we’ll assume they mean only to have videos shared from friends and Pages in a very personal way. YouTube remains the major video app for basically every other sort of video watching – out in the open.
It’ll be interesting to see how well Facebook Video – the app – handles portrait-style (vertical) videos. Facebook’s Sittler and Li suggest they’ve made changes on the mobile app for Android and iOS to improve the way vertical videos look. If they can do something to account for the strangeness of that format on an always-horizontal TV set, it’d be amazing.
According to Sittler and Li, this app is coming soon. We’ll be giving it a whirl as soon as possible.