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Facebook Watch has a big problem – too many people say they have no idea what it is

Published Aug 22nd, 2018 5:54PM EDT
Facebook Watch struggling
Image: Facebook

Throwing tons of money at video content producers for Facebook’s nascent video service called Facebook Watch that hosts episodic programming is the social media giant’s latest play to keep users coming back.

Indeed, the company reportedly may spend as much as $2 billion over the next year commissioning shows and funding content for the service. It’s just that, wait a minute, they may be getting a little ahead of themselves here, based on the results of a newly released survey of adult Facebook users in the U.S.

Most of them, it turns out, when asked about Facebook Watch say — they have no idea what it is.

The survey comes courtesy of the research firm Diffusion Group, which found that around 50 percent of 1,632 Facebook users polled in May said they’d never heard of Facebook Watch. Maybe just as problematic for the social media giant, 24 percent of the survey respondents said they’d heard of Facebook Watch but never, ah, actually watched any of its content.

Five percent of the responders said oh sure, they’ve used Facebook Watch — just not anytime recently. That’s in line with our report last month here that internal numbers reportedly show Facebook Watch has gotten off to a less than impressive start.

To that last point, you could argue that’s forgivable partly because of the newness of the thing. Facebook Watch only launched about a year ago. Even the streaming video outlets that absolutely crush it, like Netflix, don’t nail everything and have their whole operation spun up completely or perfectly one year in.

If you drill down further into the Diffusion Group numbers, you find that 6 percent of respondents said they’re already dipping into Facebook Watch content at least daily. A little more visit its shows weekly or at least once or twice a month.

Despite the negative takeaway of the survey’s headline result, about a lack of awareness among 50 percent of respondents, the Diffusion Group’s president is actually saying the data underscores plenty of promise and potential for Facebook Watch. For one thing, the survey results suggest that the video service has a base of about 50 million viewers in the U.S. and Canada, and that of those around 14 million are deeply engaged.

“Obviously, Facebook would like to see more usage of Watch,” reports Variety. “But even with the survey’s finding of low awareness about the service, Facebook’s long-term potential as a large-scale video provider can’t be discounted, said TDG president Michael Greeson. ‘Prominent social platforms like Facebook are looking for ways to exploit their massive scale to sell new video services to their users, much as Amazon has done with Prime,’ he noted.”

Variety goes on to point to one of the breakout successes of Facebook Watch — “Red Table Talk” featuring Jada Pinkett Smith and her family. It has 2.9 million followers since its May 7 debut, and a companion Facebook Group has more than 366,000 members.

Andy Meek
Andy Meek Trending News Reporter

Andy Meek is a reporter who has covered media, entertainment, and culture for over 20 years. His work has appeared in outlets including The Guardian, Forbes, and The Financial Times, and he’s written for BGR since 2015. Andy's coverage includes technology and entertainment, and he has a particular interest in all things streaming. Over the years, he’s interviewed legendary figures in entertainment and tech that range from Stan Lee to John McAfee, Peter Thiel, and Reed Hastings.