Last updateWed, 19 Feb 2020 2pm


Watch Out! Facebook Watch is Changing Streaming

Facebook WatchIn a recent influx of easy-access streaming sites, Facebook has fully released its newest free extension, aptly named Facebook Watch.

2018 marked Facebook Watch’s first significant year.

According to a Dec. 13 Facebook press release, “Watch launched to every country around the world...opened to videos from all Pages, and...debuted dozens of Facebook Originals.”

This video-on-demand service was first announced on Aug. 8, 2017 and advertised personalized video recommendations to users.

Watch takes a little bit from other popular websites to make their own viewing experience unique.

It has the YouTube and traditional TV component, because viewers can watch regular TV shows to short clips on anything. Then, there’s also the social aspect, where users can comment and react to different episodes or videos.

The new concept of ‘content bundles’ was mentioned as a Watch feature, which would provide users packages of social-media-trending content related to their interests.

Since 2017, Facebook Watch has evolved from an imagined concept to a full, content-packed service with tens of millions of viewers. Facebook reports that “on average... 75 million daily visitors spend more than 20 minutes in Watch.”

Boasting celebrity-headlined originals (with Jada Pinkett-Smith and Elizabeth Olsen, to name some stars), Facebook’s newest idea closely resembles YouTube’s original premise.

Like YouTube’s addition of licensed movies and shows, Facebook Watch is not limiting itself to the original content.

Boosting buzz is Watch’s partnership with 20th Century Fox as of Nov. 2018.

Facebook Watch houses many popular licensed titles, including Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Angel.

Daniella Scarmato, a senior communication major with a concentration in PR and journalism, agreed with Facebook’s original content: “Although the market [is] already flooded with streaming services that individuals are devoted to, it can make sense for companies to invest in [Facebook Watch] since Facebook offers some of its own content that new viewers can be drawn to.”

More of Watch’s additions include a community live-viewing feature to incorporate group connectivity, regularly-aired programs at scheduled times, and the ability for artists to apply directly to Facebook for the opportunity to create a new show in one of its streaming styles.

With an advantageous combination of new and recognizable content and widgets, Facebook has stepped in the direction to further their modern appeal.

Now that Watch is established as a fully-functional service, the next hurdle for it to overcome would be the heavy competition with media giants like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube.

Alexis Nulle, a specialist professor of communication and faculty co-advisor of the University’s PRSSA chapter, commented on Facebook Watch’s rise and unique appeal to a streaming generation:

“It’s an interesting topic because Facebook has a lot of data about its users. They can use this to their advantage to reach a larger audience and drive content tailored for each individual.”

Nulle elaborated, “Facebook Watch can tap into an audience who doesn’t mind watching ad content in exchange for a free service. In my opinion, people join a service for the viewing content, and this is how they will retain their users.”

Watch’s content is free, with revenue made from ads and sponsorships.

Users can also be more inclined to stay due to the snack-like nature of the watching experience. The aforementioned content bundles provide samplings of short and digestible media that encourage more engagement.

On a different note, Facebook is known for obtaining large amounts of data from its more-than-two-billion users, to its inherent advantage, but a disadvantage to their reputation.

While the site has the upper hand in predicting the content that will promote user activity, recent full-scale security breaches have seemingly caused public trust in Facebook to waver.

Samantha Peragino, a junior social work student, acknowledged another angle on Facebook Watch: “It seems unnecessary for Facebook to have a streaming service.Since Netflix, so many sites have hopped on the streaming bandwagon, and it seems like just a ploy to get money and or more information on viewers.”

Peragino continued, “In the instance of Facebook it is most likely to be information, as Facebook is notorious for data mining.”

To many, Facebook Watch is still not in public knowledge because of its slow-developing, lower-profile release path.

Also, because of Facebook’s recent security breaches, there is understandable skepticism in the way that the service will catalog viewer interests.

On the opposite end, there are perceptively those who are still interested in the future of the newly established Watch, and, judging by its exploding viewer numbers, it seems to be working towards a bright future for Facebook.

Nulle concluded, “So time will tell, but one thing which is a continuous trend is people cutting the cable cord and opting for video streaming content.”


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