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Report: Facebook Watch still searching for an audience to, you know, watch things

Updated Jul 13th, 2018 11:47AM EDT
Facebook Watch Shows
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Ahead of Facebook debuting a lineup of programming next week from outlets like CNN and Fox that will live inside a Facebook Watch news section — new programming the social media giant has poured millions into — a report is out that suggests the company’s video service has had a less than impressive first year.

Per The Information, Facebook’s supposed YouTube-killer has attracted disappointing audience numbers. That’s according to some of the show creators working on behalf of brands like ABC, Discovery and other media companies. Also, the digital news outlet goes on to note that “Ads that run in the middle of videos have alienated many users, according to Facebook’s own metrics, one current and two former Facebook employees said. (And) some media partners have chosen not to renew their deals with Facebook, current and former employees told The Information.”

Not the best of times to generate scrutiny over the service failing to get much traction since launching last August. The debut of news programming via Facebook Watch planned for July 16 is supposed to showcase, in part, the social networking giant taking a big step to address the part it’s played in spreading fake news especially during the 2016 presidential campaign.

The coming shows include CNN’sAnderson Cooper Full Circle,” which will feature news and interviews and will air at 6:25 p.m. eastern time on weekdays. Others planned for the launch including a Spanish-language news show from Univision — “Noticiero Univision Edicion Digital” — as well as “Mic Dispatch,” a program from the digital news outlet Mic.

Facebook is also lusting after some Twitch-like traffic and is also offering a new home for gamer broadcasts. “It has now started to actively promote a new gaming-video destination,” according to Variety, “that it quietly debuted in the past few weeks — Facebook Gaming, at — that aggregates live and prerecorded video in one place. The social giant also has started letting a few game-streaming partners let fans subscribe as supporters to their channels, for $5 per month, a la Twitch, in addition to selling ‘Facebook Stars’ to let users cheer for their favorite players (akin to the Twitch emotes available to paying members).”

There’s also a new program called “Level Up” for amateur video-gamers to help them try to build up a fanbase.

You could argue this kind of thing does make sense for Facebook, giving that part of the reason it’s lost a bit of its cool is that its users are greying fast. They’re getting older, and old people — well, they watch the news. Facebook’s user interface for such people, though, leaves a lot to be desired, and it won’t be surprising either if many of those people don’t want to wade through hamburger menu hell to find what they want to spend time on.

This will certainly be an interesting development to watch as it unfolds. And we apologize for that pun.

Andy Meek Trending News Editor

Andy Meek is a reporter based in Memphis 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.

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