Updated Aug. 10, 2017 at 12:00 p.m.

Video wars: Facebook takes on YouTube with 'Watch' (+ video)

Published: 2017-08-10 11:57:00
Updated: 2017-08-10 12:00:04

Facebook Watch Screenshots from Facebook Watch

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Facebook is getting into the battle for Internet video, launching a new service called "Watch." This service could develop into a competitor for Google's YouTube and streaming services such as Netflix since Facebook says it will be creating episodic content.

People already watch a lot of videos on Facebook, but mostly when they scroll down their main news feed. Although there has already been a special video section, it mainly showed a random concoction of "suggested" videos.

Facebook's new Watch section builds on this. The idea is to let people find videos and series they like, keep up with them as new episodes air, and interact with other fans in the process.

It is available to some U.S. users Thursday, and more people will get it over time.

"As more and more people enjoy this experience, we’ve learned that people like the serendipity of discovering videos in News Feed, but they also want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos. That’s why last year we launched the Video tab in the U.S., which offered a predictable place to find videos on Facebook. Now we want to make it even easier to catch up with shows you love," wrote Daniel Danker, director of product, in a blog at Facebook.

"We’re introducing Watch, a new platform for shows on Facebook. Watch will be available on mobile, on desktop and laptop, and in our TV apps. Shows are made up of episodes — live or recorded — and follow a theme or storyline. To help you keep up with the shows you follow, Watch has a Watchlist so you never miss out on the latest episodes."

TV personality Mike Rowe already has a Facebook Watch program.

"The new show is called Returning the Favor, and like most everything I’ve done historically, I’m relying on viewers to help me program the show," he wrote in a recent blog.

Danked talked about new shows and cited Rowe's program.

"We think Watch will be home to a wide range of shows, from reality to comedy to live sports. To help inspire creators and seed the ecosystem, we’ve also funded some shows that are examples of community-oriented and episodic video series. For example, Returning the Favor is a series hosted by Mike Rowe where he finds people doing something extraordinary for their community, tells the world about it, and in turn does something extraordinary for them. Candidates are nominated by Mike’s fans on Facebook."

Tech news site TechCrunch says that partners who make original videos exclusively for Facebook will make 55 percent of so-called "ad break revenue" with Facebook keeping 45 percent.

Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg recently told CNBC in an interview, "We are making some early investments to create episodic content."

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