In a bid to fill the Facebook Live pipeline with high quality video, Facebook has inked deals with almost 140 media companies including CNN, The New York Times, Vox Media, Tastemade, Mashable and The Huffington Post, and celebrities including Kevin Hart, Gordon Ramsay, Deepak Chopra and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson. With these high-profile media contracts, Facebook plans to tap into a potentially lucrative advertising market, as well as more deeply engage its 1.65 billion monthly users.
The Wall Street Journal reports that, according to a document it reviewed, Facebook’s payments, which top $50 million, are incentive to “encourage publishers to produce a steady stream of high-quality videos until Facebook figures out a more concrete plan to compensate creators, such as through sharing of ad revenue.”
“We wanted to invite a broad set of partners so we could get feedback from a variety of different organizations about what works and what doesn’t,” explained Facebook executive Justin Osofsky.
According to the document, 17 individual year-long contracts are worth more than $1 million. BuzzFeed is the highest paid publisher, at $3.05 million, followed by $3.03 million for The New York Times, $2.5 million for CNN, and $1 million for food-centric Tastemade.
The list also includes the Metropolitan Museum of Art and American Museum of Natural History in New York; Internet celebrities Logan Paul, Andrew Bachelor and Lele Pons; dance music DJs Armin Van Buuren and Hardwell; and sports team FC Barcelona.
Facebook users already watch 100 million hours of video daily in their news feeds. However, while the company accounts for nearly 20 percent of U.S. mobile ad revenues, says eMarketer, it has yet to leverage digital video as a major revenue source unlike Alphabet’s YouTube. The U.S. market alone is valued at $9.8 billion.
In May, social media metrics company Socialbakers reports that 44 percent of the top 500 Facebook pages of media companies “posted at least one live video on Facebook, up from 11 percent in January.”
The top Facebook Live videos recently included two BuzzFeed employees who put rubber bands around a watermelon until it exploded (10.8 million views) and Candace Payne who filmed herself laughing over a noise-making Chewbacca mask (157.6 million views). Approximately 66 percent of Live video views take place after they’re first streamed, although early Facebook tests show that “the average user watches live video three times longer than other types of video.”