Facebook Live Partners with Broadcast, Aims to Share Profits

Since Facebook rolled out Live to everyone in December, it’s quickly built momentum, distinguishing itself from YouTube and other video platforms, and building a massive audience. Although Facebook had to overcome a range of technical challenges to enable hundreds of thousands of phones to stream at the same time, it used its expertise and engineering capacity to do so. Now, Facebook is encouraging celebrities and broadcasters to create Live content, and is also working on a business model to share eventual revenues.

BuzzFeed notes the importance of video to co-founder Mark Zuckerberg. “We’re entering this new golden age of video,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if you fast-forward five years and most of the content that people see on Facebook and are sharing on a day-to-day basis is video.”

What Facebook has that Periscope, Meerkat, Peach and Beme do not is its massive reach, which matters not just to public figures but individuals.

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It’s not just BuzzFeed getting paid, says Re/code, which reports Facebook is also paying The New York Times, the Huffington Post and the Tastemade video network and, possibly, even Vox Media, Re/code’s parent company.

Reaching audiences the size of television makes BuzzFeed thing that Facebook will go after traditional broadcast, although Zuckerberg demurred when asked. “While Live may not signal the end of live television as we know it… It definitely feels like the beginning of something,” says BuzzFeed.

Bloomberg adds that since the debut of Live, it’s “become a popular tool for broadcasters like Walt Disney Co.’s ABC to entice TV viewers to watch shows when they air — and sit through the ads.”

Broadcasters are using Facebook Live to create extra, intimate experiences for fans of TV shows, such as Fox’s visit backstage with Keith Urban for “American Idol.” Discovery brought Captain Josh Harris to Live to answer fans questions before the “Deadliest Catch” premiere, which garnered 2.55 million viewers, according to Nielsen. The company approached ABC about live webcasting last year and has used it on “The Bachelor” as well as its new show “The Catch.”

Up until now, Facebook — which made $17.9 billion in 2015 revenue — is getting the content for free. But that might change. According to Variety, Zuckerberg has also said that he “is looking to share revenue generated from live video streams with broadcasters.”

“Over time, we want to make it so that this can grow into a sustainable way that a lot of independent artists can make a living and can make money as well,” he added. “We will work on some of these business model pieces over the coming months.”