- Facebook on Wednesday introduced the news programming it is funding for its Watch premium video platform. The slate includes five shows produced by major media organizations like ABC News, CNN, Fox News and Univision and three shows from lesser known outlets Alabama Media, ATTN: and Mic. The shows will debut this summer, and Facebook will announce more programs in the coming weeks.
- "On Location" from Disney-owned ABC News will report on top headlines with dispatches from its journalists around the world. “Fox News Update” from 21st Century Fox will have breaking news throughout the day from news anchors Shepard Smith, Carley Shimkus and Abby Huntsman.
- "Anderson Cooper Full Circle" from Time Warner’s CNN will be a vertically shot interactive program that will stream weekdays evenings from New York City. "Univision's Real America" will feature anchor Jorge Ramos interviewing immigrants across the U.S.
Since its rollout last August, Facebook has struggled to drive viewership on Watch, with a study by social video analytics company Delmondo finding average viewing time to be only 23 seconds. By funding professionally produced content from established news outlets, Facebook is showing its commitment to making Watch a key part of the platform. Facebook's revenue growth partly depends on video ads backed by major brands which could advertise on Watch, and video outperforms other content types on the platform by "a statistically significant margin," according to a study published last month by Likeable.
Facebook is far from the only social media network cozying up to publishers now that there's a bigger focus on quality content, although it is still unclear how strong consumer demand is for news programming on social media. YouTube is also trying to beef up its news credibility while Twitter recently signed more than 30 deals with major publishers for news, entertainment and sports video content. Snapchat's relationship with publishers appears to have lost some steam and could struggle even more going forward now that Snapchat has stopped paying publishers for content.
Facebook is investing more resources into video that engages audiences while also trying to quiet criticism that its platform is a primary conduit for misinformation, political propaganda, election meddling and hate speech. News programming from traditional journalism organizations may help to allay concerns about the information that Facebook distributes, but could also fuel criticism that the company is pushing biased news.
Facebook Watch is part of the company’s shift to separate user-generated posts from professionally produced content including video news and entertainment. The company this year took steps to revert its signature newsfeed back to showing more posts from friends and family while reducing the clutter of clickbait and viral videos.
The change in Facebook’s news feed also led to more tensions with media partners that have relied on the platform to distribute their content, according to The Wall Street Journal. Facebook offered some publishers between $1 million and $3 million for one-year contracts, unnamed sources told the Journal, but some publishers balked at the terms and Facebook’s shifting strategy turned off others, among the litany of complaints about the social network’s demands.