Facebook Introduces Video Series, Targeting TV Ad Market

Facebook is in production on new video series, with an eye on the $70 billion TV advertising market. First up from the social media company are reality competition series “Last State Standing” and a second season of comedy “Loosely Exactly Nicole,” which first appeared on MTV. Facebook hopes that if it adds original programming to the site, it will encourage cable networks and ad-supported, youth-oriented online services to upload their own premium video content. Facebook executives have compared its efforts to priming the pump.

Bloomberg quotes ATTN: chief executive Matthew Segal, whose media company publishes video on Facebook, that, “funding video is a way for Facebook to figure out its greater advertising program.”

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“It’s clear they want to be a bigger player in the space,” he said. “They want to eclipse TV.”

Although Facebook has been sharing ad revenue with video producers for two years, “few generated enough advertising revenue to treat Facebook as a primary distribution outlet for high-end video.”

Now, Facebook is producing a few “hero shows” costing “a couple hundred thousand dollars an episode,” from established TV producers, and “spotlight shows,” which are shorter, cheaper, from Vox Media and BuzzFeed among others.

Facebook is giving publishers of the spotlight shows a minimum guarantee of $10,000 to $20,000 an episode up front although it will retain exclusive rights “for a period of time” before the publishers can place the videos elsewhere. Facebook will share ad revenue and publishers will be able to sell their own ads “after a brief period.”

Some potential partners are apparently unhappy that Facebook is “insisting on selling advertising itself and inserting ads into the middle of live broadcasts.” But, says Facebook head of video product Fidji Simo, “the sustainable model is some sort of revenue sharing.” “The goal is really to get a lot of different partners to come to Facebook share their content and find success,” Simo said. “It’s very hard to find that over the long term by funding.”

CollegeHumor co-founder Ricky Van Veen will lead Facebook’s new venture; Netflix executive Sarah Madigan was just added to acquire video programs as was former MTV executive Mina Lefevre to oversee the development of new shows. Van Veen is looking for a head of unscripted development to work under Lefevre.

Facebook has not yet revealed how ads will be displayed on the programs it’s funding, nor has it given its partners a demonstration of its new video tab, Spotlight, which was slated to debut earlier this year, then June and now fall. Facebook is also reportedly developing a second tab “devoted to more high-end programming.”