Facebook Debuts Watch, a Tab for Original Exclusive Videos

Facebook has debuted Watch, a new tab for original and exclusive video content from its partners. Among those offering short episodic series are A&E, Major League Baseball and National Geographic. Facebook’s aim is to increase the amount of time users stay on the site, boosting ad sales whose revenue will be split between content creators, who keep 55 percent, with the rest going to Facebook. Episodes include “My Social Media Life” about Internet celebrity David Lopez and Business Insider’s “Great Cheese Hunt.”

Bloomberg reports that product director Daniel Danker said that, “As people come to Facebook more and more to watch video, they want a reliable place to watch.”

“We’re hoping to see thousands of shows created,” he added. “The shows that we helped fund are really a small portion of that, and will be a shrinking portion over time.”

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According to eMarketer, “Facebook will bring in about 20 percent of the $83 billion advertisers spend online in the U.S. this year.” In addition to splitting revenue with publishers, Facebook wants them to make money by “creating videos with advertisers from the get-go.” In addition to short content, Facebook “also is backing a handful of TV-length episodes, but doesn’t want to fund videos in the long term.”

“The friend features will differentiate it,” said ATTN: co-founder Matthew Segal, whose digital media company has produced shows for Facebook, including a health show hosted by Jessica Alba and a relationship advice show hosted by Nev Schulman, producer of “Catfish.” “You can do everything through the prism of your friends.”

TechCrunch, which lists many of the new Facebook shows, notes that Watch offers “personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch,” as well as “categories like Most Talked About, What’s Making People Laugh and Shows Your Friends Are Watching.” Users can learn about new episodes of favorite shows with a Watchlist feature, and “publishers can also share their shows to the News Feed to help people discover them.”

The original content genres range from “live event coverage to reality TV to scripted programs,” but not “the type of longer-form scripted dramas and comedies people are used to watching on television.” Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg wrote that, “We believe it’s possible to rethink a lot of experiences through the lens of building community — including watching video.”

“Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive,” he said. “You’ll be able to chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.”