Facebook watch on a desktop

Facebook launches ‘Watch’ video feature as challenge to YouTube and TV streaming

Image credit: Facebook

Facebook will replace its ‘Videos’ tab with a new feature, ‘Watch’, in direct competition with other online video services, such as Netflix and YouTube, and allowing its users to explore videos within the Facebook community and showcase their own original content.

In recent years, Facebook has moved into video hosting, introducing its Videos tab and buying up rights to weekly live sports coverage, such as Major League Baseball.

Watch will offer two tabs: “watchlist” and “discover”. Users will be able to save videos to their watchlist, which can send notifications when new episodes are added. Users can also follow the channels of brand and artists that they are following and discover trending content, join dedicated Facebook groups based around shows and find content that their friends are watching.

Facebook Watch on a phone


Image credit: Facebook

Content will be organised into sections such as “what’s making people laugh”, based on the “laughing emoji” reaction. As they watch, users will see comments and reactions made by other users on the same show.

In a blog post announcing Watch, Daniel Danker, Facebook’s director of product, said that watching videos on Facebook “has the incredible power to connect people, spark conversation and foster community”.

Likely inspired by the explosive success of Netflix, Facebook has, according to the blog post, commissioned some “community-oriented” shows to “help inspire creators and seed the ecosystem”. For instance, Mike Rowe’s Returning the Favor will feature people who have done “something extraordinary for their community”, as nominated by Facebook users.

“Watch is a platform for all creators and publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans and earn money for their work,” Danker wrote.

Facebook will take a large share of revenue generated by ad breaks during shows, while partners who produce content exclusively for Facebook will be able to take home 55 per cent of the revenue from their content.

Watch will be available on desktop computers as well as through the Facebook app and via Facebook’s TV apps, including those made for competitors Apple and Amazon. The service will first be launched for select testers in the US before being made accessible to Facebook’s billions of users worldwide.

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