They all try to kill the age-old TV but end up themselves becoming one. Sort of. Facebook has just taken a major step forward that puts it at odds not just with YouTube but with every tech company that is trying to become the TV of the future today. More than just one single place to find videos on Facebook (it already has a Video tab for that), Watch is a platform that brings order and consistency amidst the randomness of Facebook videos. In other words, episodic content or regular shows that revolve around a theme or personality. This, folks, is Facebook TV.
Social networks have long grown up from mere 160 character posts or even photos that are barely recognizable because of their filters. And while live video streaming seems to be en vogue, not everyone can always catch events as they happen, and not all types of content are best done ad hoc.
Facebook (and Google through YouTube) has long discovered the power of videos. Especially money-making power. Videos make up a sizable chunk of Facebook posts these days to the point that trying to scroll through the news feed to get to interesting ones takes away the fun of the experience. That was what the Video tab, available only in the US, was for. Watch is, to some extent, a natural evolution of that idea where videos are grouped into Shows.
In a nutshell, Shows are videos grouped by episode or theme, in contrast to your run of the mill one-off cat videos. Think TV shows, because that’s pretty much what they are. You have videos designed to directly engage viewers, like those from Nas Daily or life coach Gabby Bernstein. There are also shows that bring viewers along for the journey of a fictional character like Kitchen Little. There are also shows that give viewers a window to real-life events as they happen, like Major League Baseball games.
Being in the digital and Internet age, Facebook Watch is more than just a collection of online shows. It has a pinch of machine learning via dynamically curated sections like “Most Talked About” or “What’s Making People Laugh”. There’s also a Watchlist so you won’t have to manually keep track of the shows you follow. And, of course, there’s plenty of opportunity to react or comment on those.
Facebook Watch is currently in a limited testing phase in the US, available only to an exclusive group of users. Facebook is also inviting a limited number of creators to become part of its initial lineup of original Shows. When Watch, and Shows, will roll out to the rest of the country, let alone the world, will probably depend on how popular and lucrative the platform will be.