1. New media
August 30, 2018updated 03 Sep 2018 9:50am

Facebook rolls out video streaming service Watch worldwide

By Ellen Daniel

A year after it launched in the US, Facebook has rolled out its video-streaming service Facebook Watch worldwide.

Users outside of the US will now be able to watch live and pre-recorded episodic TV content, produced for the company by partners, on mobile, desktop and laptop.

What is Facebook Watch?

Facebook Watch has modelled itself as a “TV social media platform”, giving users personalised recommendations for videos to watch, allowing them to comment and react to videos, and encouraging audience participation through “watch parties”. Videos are also divided into categories such as “Most Talked About “What’s Making People Laugh,” and “What Friends Are Watching.”

Since its launch last August, the platform has streamed shows such as Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith as well as live sporting events including major league baseball games. According to the BBC, ABC, Fox News, Vice and Buzzfeed are among those making content for the service.

Earlier this year, Facebook announced it was partnering with BuzzFeed, Vox, CNN, and Fox News to launch news programmes for Facebook Watch.

The social media giant has also announced that it is expanding its Ad Breaks programme, which allows some content creators to monetise their videos through mid-roll video ad breaks, to include non-US publishers.

According to Facebook, which invested $1bn in Watch this year, 50 million people in the US watch videos for at least a minute on Watch every month, and total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased 14 times since the start of 2018.

Rival to YouTube?

Although the service may be positioning itself as a rival to YouTube and Netflix, research from The Diffusion Group found that half of adult Facebook users have never heard of the free Watch video service, while 24% have heard of it but never used it.

However, Youtube has recently tightened its advertising rules, making it harder for content creators to make money from the platform, so Watch may be poised to fill the video-streaming gap.

Facebook-owned Instagram launched its own video-streaming service in June.