Tag Archives: TV

Facebook’s plan for original TV is coming together

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.”



Facebook Wants to Take Over TV

“We’re focusing more on shorter form content to start” Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on today’s Q4 earnings call, where he was repeatedly questioned about Facebook’s video strategy. One thing’s clear, Facebook will invest heavily. “I see video as a mega trend,” said Zuckerberg.

Facebook will both pay video makers up front and through ad revenue sharing to get their content into its News Feed and video tab. Despite reports that it’s been in talks with TV studios and is building a set-top TV box, Facebook isn’t going to immediately dive into funding a ton of TV shows and movies. Zuckerberg noted, “Over the longer term…people will experiment with longer forms of video as well as all kinds of different things.” But quick, snackable clips are “the primary focus for the foreseeable future.”

Essentially, Facebook is more interested in the YouTube model of collecting tons of quick video clips than investing in long-form shows or films like Netflix.

Facebook’s CFO David Wehner said “our focus was on kickstarting the ecosystem here for the video tab…We’re looking at a wide range of content.” To do that, it plans to pay up-front for “seed content,” which will start to draw more viewers to its video offering and make it an established home for premium clips. This is similar to what it did to spark initial interest in Facebook Live. “We’re certainly going to be seeding content to get the ecosystem going. That’s not about doing big deals,” said Wehner.

Eventually, though, it plans to get enough viewers that an advertising revenue share with creators will be enough to keep them contributing their videos. “We need to be able to support that with a business model that we’re working on with ads,” said Wehner.

Zuckerberg believes that the new video tab, now rolled out to everyone in the U.S., will change video viewing behavior on Facebook. Right now, people stumble upon videos in their News Feed, which they often check during short down-times in their daily lives. “Say I want to watch video content now,” Zuckerberg says. “That’s what I think we’re going to unlock with this tab. The early trends are good.”

That dedicated visitorship combined with a healthy, long-term business model could attract “the best episodic content,” says Zuckerberg. That means expanding its inclusion of mid-roll ads with a design that doesn’t scare off viewers. Those episodes could include half-hour TV shows but Zuckerberg was likely referring to the kind of weekly video shows often seen on YouTube. He sees the video tab as a convenient way to follow your favorite video stars and catch up on their latest clips.

Facebook’s CEO called video a “megatrend” with good reason. As bigger screens, faster connections, better mobile cameras and short-form video content techniques proliferate, it’s become much more pleasant to watch while on the go. While even browsing photos can require some mental and thumb effort, videos offer people an immersive, lean-back escape from their lives.

Facebook and Instagram consumed much of that need to detach from the present in the pre-video era, and now they’re trying to cement themselves in a world where phones are our primary televisions.


Facebook plans to be more like YouTube than Netflix as it pays for video