Facebook unveils Watch content platform; A&E, Nat Geo on board

Global social networking platform Facebook has unveiled more details of its original content initiative, Watch, which will feature content produced by a range of media partners, including A&E, National Geographic ...
August 10, 2017

Global social networking platform Facebook has unveiled more details of its original content initiative, Watch, which will feature content produced by a range of media partners, including A&E, National Geographic and Hearst, among others.

In a blog post, director of product Daniel Danker said Watch will be available on mobile, desktop, laptop and via FB TV apps and will be comprised of original episodic programming, calling it “a platform for all creators and publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans, and earn money for their work.”

The program is rolling out to a small group of users across the U.S. as of today (Aug. 10).

Content will include Bae or Bail from A&E, an unscripted series in which couples facing their fears see who sticks it out and who “bails”; Nat Geo’s mini-doc series We’re Wired That Way and Nat Geo Wild’s Safari Live.

It will also feature Fan Theories from Vulture, with videos breaking down outlandish theories about plots from major shows; Pretty Unfiltered from PopSugar; Tiny Houses from Brit & Co and How it Went Down from Billboard.

They join the previously announced Returning the Favor with Mike Rowe from Hudsun Media, an untitled series about three basketball prodigy brothers Lonzo, Liangelo and LaMelo Ball, as well as a live game every Friday from Major League Baseball, among other projects.

Watch will be personalized to help Facebook users discover original series, “organized around what your friends and communities are watching,” in an effort to make it easier to browse and discover new episodic content. Users will be able to click through a variety of sections that include Most Talked About; What’s Making People Laugh, featuring programs in which users have used the “Haha” reaction; and What Friends Are Watching, connecting users with the shows their friends are viewing.

Facebook will be funding some shows in an effort to “seed the ecosystem”, learn and father feedback. Conceivably, the percentage of shows Facebook funds iwll become smaller as time goes and on and more creators share their shows.

“Our goal with funding content is to gather feedback and share learnings with our community,” the spokesperson said, in an email to realscreen. “Over time, we want to help lots of creators make money through revenue sharing products like Ad Break.”

Facebook, in a blog post, noted that content creators would be able to monetize their projects through Ad Breaks in the coming future.

“We’ve been testing Ad Breaks over the past few months, and we will be slowly opening up availability to more creators to ensure we’re providing a good experience for the community,” added Nick Grudin, Facebook’s VP of media partnerships. “Creators can also create sponsored shows using our branded content tag.”

In December, the company’s global creative strategy Ricky Van Veen stated that Facebook was mulling over the idea of funding some seed video content for scripted and unscripted content.

The social network website had also previously onboarded Mina Lefevre, MTV’s former EVP and head of scripted development, as head of development.

 “Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things,” said Facebook co-founder, chair and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, in a Facebook post. “That’s why today we’re launching the Watch tab in Facebook — a place where you can discover shows your friends are watching and follow your favorite shows and creators so you don’t miss any episodes.

“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,” he added. “We hope Watch will be home to a wide range of shows — from reality to comedy to live sports. Some will be made by professional creators, and others from regular people in our community.”

With reporting by Daniele Alcinii and Meagan Kashty

About The Author
Jillian Morgan is the Associate Editor at Realscreen with a background in journalism and digital marketing. She joined the publication in 2019 after serving as the assistant editor to trade publications HPAC and On-Site. With a bachelor of journalism from the University of King's College in Halifax, she also works as a freelance writer and fact-checker.