- Facebook's Messenger app this week added a feature that lets mobile users watch videos as they share a video chat session. People can see videos from Facebook Watch, the social network's video-on-demand (VOD) service, on Android and iOS devices, according to an announcement.
- To demonstrate how creators can use the service to help build an audience, Facebook worked with celebrity trainer Melissa Alcantara to develop a series of workout videos that Messenger users can watch together. Seventy percent of U.S. consumers who work out with a partner have achieved a fitness goal in the past six months, compared with only 45% of people who exercise by themselves, Facebook found in a survey.
- For mobile marketers that buy ads on Facebook Watch, the shared viewing experience on Messenger may help to reach a broader audience in a fun, relaxed setting. To start a joint viewing session, users must start a video call with up to eight people or a "Messenger room" video conference that can handle as many as 50 participants, and then swipe up to select "watch together" from a menu.
Messenger is the latest app to offer a feature that lets mobile users watch videos together as homebound consumers use social media for entertainment and to stay in touch with their friends and family. Disney+, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and Twitch also have introduced similar joint viewing services, while apps like Scener let people watch multiple platforms together, The Verge reported. The shared viewing experience may help marketers that buy ads on Facebook Watch to reach a broader audience of tech-savvy consumers in a relaxed and brand-safe virtual setting.
Messenger is used for about 150 million video calls and 200 million videos a day, a sign of how it's becoming more of a visual communication channel. Messenger has consistently ranked as one of most downloaded apps in the world, though other video-based apps are seeing a significant surge in popularity during the pandemic as people look for rich communication services that support more than just text-based messages.
Video-sharing apps like TikTok and videoconferencing apps such as Zoom and Google Meet were among the 10 most downloaded apps worldwide in August, an estimate from analytics firm Sensor Tower found, pointing to how video is steadily become a more important part of smartphones. With the expansion of high-speed 5G networks, video consumption is likely boom in the next decade.
To stay apace with the growing number of video-based platforms and keep users engaged, Facebook needs to build out the video features of its social network and apps such as Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp. The company last month rolled out Instagram Reels, a video feature in the photo-sharing app, to compete more directly with TikTok as the social video app sought to fend off a regulatory threat in the U.S. TikTok this week selected business software company Oracle as a technology partner to help avert the possibility of being banned in the U.S. because of national security concerns.