OTT & Digital

Facebook launches Watch feature as video push continues

New app tab to include original content and other programming, including live sport.

by Michael Long

Facebook launches Watch feature as video push continues

Facebook has announced the launch of its new ‘Watch’ tab as it continues its push to put original video content at the heart of its platform.

The new feature will include content produced exclusively by Facebook partners and is initially being rolled out on the company’s mobile, desktop and TV apps to a limited number of users in the United States, before a broader release across the globe in future.

The revamped Watch video hub, which replaces the Videos tab within the Facebook app, will include a mix of programming, from live event coverage to scripted TV shows and comedy.

Sports programming available upon launch includes Major League Baseball (MLB) games, WNBA All-Access, streams of Mexican soccer’s Liga MX, and Golden State Warriors’ ‘Championship Rewind’, a documentary that looks back at the team’s championship-winning 2016/17 NBA season.

According to TechCrunch, content creators who produce original programming for the platform will earn 55 per cent of ad revenues while Facebook will keep the remainder. Publishers can also share their content to user’s news feeds, enabling them to discover shows more easily.

Watch will also feature a personalised Watchlist that comprises a viewer’s favourite programmes, while content will be categorised into sub-sections such as ‘Most Talked About’, ‘What’s Making People Laugh’, and ‘What Friends Are Watching’.

Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has repeatedly trumpeted live video as the future of online content, and the long-awaited launch of Watch is intended to build on the success of Facebook Live, the company's live streaming service which debuted in April 2016, whilst taking the fight to rival video services such as YouTube and Snapchat.

Sports, and particularly soccer, have been central to Facebook’s video strategy to date. Last year, the company signed scores of content contracts with companies and well-known athletes, committing some US$50 million on forging rights relationships for its Live service.