Facebook opens checkbook, ad inventory on Watch, reports say
- Facebook is putting more money into original content for its Watch on-demand video platform. The social network is asking content creators like producers, publishers and influencers with big followings on Instagram and other social platforms to offer up ideas for shows, Digiday reported.
- Facebook might pay for up to six to eight shows from each producer, and pay about $200,000 for an eight-episode series, a source told Digiday. The shows wouldn't be considered Facebook-owned "originals," and the social network would license them for a limited period of about three months.
- Facebook also is piloting a plan to let media companies with shows on Watch sell ads. The program means TV networks that post video clips to Watch can control the ad inventory instead of the current system of having Facebook deliver ads, Ad Age reported.
Facebook continues to try to make Watch a destination for users and advertisers as it maxes out the ad inventory on its core News Feed. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he expects Facebook Watch to become "more mainstream" this year. However, while 400 million people a month watch at least a minute of programming on the platform, it only has about 75 million daily viewers, who spend an average of 20 minutes a day on it. The social network's News Feed is the primary way that users see content on the platform, but Facebook has aimed to push video watching to the Watch tab in its app. "We're finding ways for video to grow outside of News Feed so it doesn't displace the social interactions that people primarily come to our services for," Zuckerberg said in a quarterly conference call with analysts.
The platform is boosting efforts to entice more social influencers to post content on Watch, which the company created to court big-spending TV advertisers and to compete with Google's YouTube. The company this week has a bigger presence at the first VidCon London, an extension of the conference in Southern California that mostly appeals to YouTubers and their fans. Facebook last year brought 120 creators to its first "Creator Day" to show them new products and to bring them together with its product managers, per Digiday. The push could help Facebook grow the Watch audience by piggybacking on the popularity of influencers with large followings.
By letting some content producers sell their own ads on Watch, the social network can boost the incentives for publishers and TV networks to share content and keep users engaged in its app. The company's vast user base is enticing, although YouTube still has a commanding lead in video distribution with more than 1.8 billion monthly users. Of course, content producers need to be wary about working with Facebook, given its history of changing its platform and triggering steep drops in revenue and viewership for content producers.