The Wall Street Journal has reported several details of Facebook’s so far hazy plan to bring original content to its platform.
The first crop of its original series has been set to launch later this summer (though a source later noted that was a “moving target”), and will have both the runtime and the budget of full-fledged cable TV productions. Thirty-minute episodes will include ads, and Facebook is reportedly willing to pay up to $3 million per episode for centerpiece shows. The company is also reportedly interested in sit-com programming with episodic budgets in the six-figure range, and signed deals for short-form content from partners like ATTN, Vox Media, and BuzzFeed earlier this month.
Sources said that Facebook was looking to target an age range of 13–34, focusing on 17–30, and that the company was interested in its own takes on popular reality programming like The Bachelor, melodramas like Scandal, and a large swathe of comedy, but not shows about teens, nor “political dramas, news [or] shows with nudity and rough language.” So, as it stands, it looks like Facebook wants to be the safest, most straight-down-the-middle TV network on the web.
Refinery29’s Strangers, which debuted at Sundance in January, is one of the first shows set to debut on the platform, alongside a revival of MTV’s Loosely Exactly Nicole, which was canceled by Viacom after one season. (MTV’s Mina Lefevre was hired to head scripted content at Facebook in February.) Last State Standing, a reality competition show from the producers of American Ninja Warrior, was also announced earlier this month.
According to the WSJ, Facebook will share ad revenue with creatives who contribute short-form content. And, in a major break from the way online competitors like Netflix and Hulu have been doing business, it will also open up its viewership data to “Hollywood” — presumably production partners. There is so far no hint that Facebook would release viewership data to press.
Update: Facebook provided a comment from VP of media partnerships Nick Grudin via email, writing “We’re supporting a small group of partners and creators as they experiment with the kinds of shows you can build a community around — from sports to comedy to reality to gaming. We’re focused on episodic shows and helping all our partners understand what works across different verticals and topics. We’re funding these shows directly now, but over time we want to help lots of creators make videos funded through revenue sharing products like Ad Break.”