Facebook Watch recently launched in the UK, following a successful trial in the US. Let’s take a look at what’s on offer, what it does well and some of the challenges Watch faces.
What is Facebook Watch?
A video hub containing long and short form content. It appears as a separate tab on the mobile app, with the aim of making video content more accessible within the platform.
In the US Facebook have invested heavily in original programming to compete with Netflix, YouTube, Amazon and Apple.
Why have Facebook launched Watch?
Video content is becoming increasingly an integral part of social media platforms, and Facebook face increased competition from the other players, and content providers offering over the top services such as HBO, Showtime and Hulu. By consolidating video content into a single platform this boosts discoverability, means audiences stay longer on Facebook and ultimately is more profitable as mid-roll ads can be served.
What Facebook Watch gets right
Clean, uncluttered and simple design
A minimal look and feel serves the content well, and makes the videos more engaging.
The search tools work well, and algorithms deliver relevant content based on pages you’ve like and previous Facebook activity.
Simple commenting and sharing
Anyone who has used Facebook Live will be immediately familiar with the commenting system, and standard Facebook reaction buttons.
If Facebook can help reduce the toxicity of many of the comments on YouTube, they could have a major competitive advantage.
Excellent opportunities for advertisers
Facebook Watch offers premium mid-roll and interstitial paid Ad Breaks. Recent US statistics suggest that 70% of mid-roll ads are watched to completion, so represents an outstanding opportunity for advertisers to get in front of engaged audiences.
What challenges does Facebook Watch face?
Compelling original content
Although it’s still early days, the original programming commissioned by Facebook arguably hasn’t delivered any killer shows and is currently very US focused.
Facebook Watch really needs a Stranger Things, The Crown or other water cooler show to drive engagement. Netflix alone are spending over $8 billion on original content this year, so the pressure is on.
Ad Breaks are a perfect fit for larger advertisers, but the eligibility standards are fairly high so don’t expect to see mid-roll ads from small businesses anytime soon.
To apply for Ad Breaks the following criteria applies:
- Pages must have over 10,000 followers
- Pages must include videos over three minutes in length that have generated over 30,000 one minute views over the past two months
Given this smaller video creators may still be more profitable using YouTube.
Facebook Watch currently presents all the video content in a single view without filters. This can sometimes lead to a slightly disorienting experience, particularly if you follow a lot of disparate pages.
A mix of news headlines, sport clips, film trailers and how-to videos can lead to sensory overload.