If you’re not posting as many status updates these days, Facebook is hoping it can at least convince you to open the app and watch some TV. Maybe even pay for some.
2018 has been a a busy year for Facebook’s still-nascent efforts around streaming original programming a la Netflix, which is another way of saying the social networking giant’s still got a long way to go before it’s seen as having the same cachet as its much more established streaming competitors. Nevertheless, Facebook is pressing on, with a slew of new headlines around its Facebook Watch service that even include the possibility of Facebook selling you an HBO package that you could watch through the app.
The company has also just released a slew of updated stats and viewership figures, in addition to announcing some series renewals and other major efforts on the horizon. For starters, Facebook says more than 75 million people a day and upwards of 400 million people a month now watch at least 1 minute of Facebook Watch content each day. And that, on average, those 75 million daily viewers spend more than 20 minutes within the Watch tab.
That’s a little vague around what people are actually watching, of course. When you jump into the Watch tab after opening the mobile Facebook app, for example, you’re presented not just with Facebook original shows to watch but also videos that have been uploaded from Facebook pages you follow. But that’s not to say Facebook doesn’t have a quality selection of original content of its own to binge within Facebook Watch. The social network is apparently seeing enough engagement that it’s just announced season two renewals for four Watch shows: Five Points, Sacred Lies, Huda Boss and Sorry For Your Loss, the latter earning an impressive 96% score on Rotten Potatoes and starring Elizabeth Olsen in an extremely strong drama that deals with loss, grief and moving on.
In case you missed it, Facebook is also now streaming Joss Whedon shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel and Firefly within Watch, too. It might sound like a random choice to ink a deal for those, until you stop to remember that Joss’ shows have generally had extremely strong and engaged fan communities around them.
As we mentioned earlier, Facebook is also eyeing another potential moneymaker via watch. From Recode: “Facebook is readying its biggest move into video to date: It wants to sell consumers subscriptions to cable TV networks like HBO and hopes they’ll watch those networks on its own apps.
“The social network is talking to pay TV channels including HBO, Showtime and Starz about a proposal to sell those companies’ streaming TV services on Facebook. Consumers who subscribed to the channels could watch them on Facebook’s own properties — mostly likely via Facebook’s ‘Watch’ hub — but could also likely view them on other platforms and devices, like Roku TVs.”
Among other news, Facebook in August rolled out the Watch platform globally on mobile, and on Thursday the company announced that Watch is now available around the world on desktop and via Facebook Lite.
“We know that in the age of ‘peak TV,’ simply being entertaining or having high production values isn’t good enough,” Facebook head of video Fidji Simo said in a company blog post. “A show needs to strike a chord in the broader cultural zeitgeist or serve a group of passionate people that want something they can’t get elsewhere. That ‘something’ could come in the form of a personal connection with the talent, or content that covers a niche subject matter. With shows on Facebook, those personal connections are possible, and those fan bases are often already well-formed and reachable on the platform. This is the lens we use when funding original series and the advice we give partners looking to create engaging content.”