- Facebook Watch, the social network's free on-demand video service, faces significant challenges in generating awareness and use more than a year after its introduction, per a survey by researcher The Diffusion Group (TDG). TDG this year surveyed 1,632 adult Facebook users regarding their awareness and use of Facebook's Watch tab.
- Facebook heavily promotes Watch in its mobile app and highlights the service on its navigation bar, but usage is still low. TDG's survey found that 21% of Facebook users view shows on Watch at least monthly, 14% at least weekly and 6% at least once a day. Yet half of adult Facebook users have never heard of Watch, while 24% have heard of it but have never used it, the survey found.
- There have been some successes. ABC's TV Station Group launched Localfish, a digital-first media brand, whose More in Common debuted in July 2018 and has generated 5 million views and 50,000 subscribers.
After Watch's early struggles, Facebook had planned to spend $1 billion on content this year to help boost viewership as the company seeks greater ad revenue from major brands that traditionally advertise on TV to drive mass-market awareness.
Watch's low awareness among users is no doubt troubling for the social media giant, which has funded content by major media organizations like ABC News, CNN, Fox News and Univision to drive viewership. The company has also committed a significant part of its content budge to live sports, buying the rights to stream 25 Major League Baseball games this season that can only be watched for free on Facebook.
The low awareness for Facebook Watch comes as organic reach for Facebook influencer content fell an average of 23% over the past year, according to an analysis by the influencer marketing firm Whosay. In addition, Facebook last month disappointed investors, reporting that revenue growth rate had decelerated approximately 7 percent in Q2 2018 from the prior quarter. Company executives forecasted further deceleration in the second half during a conference call last month with investors to discuss the quarterly results.
The low awareness of Watch among Facebook users, however, doesn't diminish the company's power to reach a mass audience of 2 billion users. The social media giant has effectively cross-promoted apps like Instagram and Messenger on its main social network, and each of those services has 1 billion or more users. Plus, as TDG notes, tech companies like Facebook can use services like Watch as a loss-leader that keeps users in its ecosystem longer.