- MTV Studios partnered with Facebook Watch, the social network's video streaming service, on a "reimagined" version of the reality series "The Real World" that will debut in the spring. The show, which documents the lives of seven young adults living in the same house, will have different versions for the U.S., Mexico and Thailand, according to a press release.
- The Facebook Watch version of the show will let viewers submit their names to be potential cast members and vote on a housemate to make the final cut. Fans will have a chance to connect with the cast on the social network's Facebook Live, Premieres and Watch Party formats. "The Real World" originally ran for 32 seasons on MTV and last aired in 2017.
- Facebook and MTV announced the partnership at this year's Mipcom conference in Cannes, France. Facebook also announced plans to expand its live trivia game show "Confetti" to more markets worldwide, and to air a series called "The World's Most Amazing Dog" in partnership with animal-centric media platform The Dodo, per Variety.
As Facebook seeks to appeal to a younger audience amid competition from Snapchat and possible cannibalization of its audience by Instagram, the reboot of MTV's signature series "The Real World" may give users another reason to spend more time on the social platform. Facebook was willing to spend as much as $1 billion on original programming through the end of this year as CEO Mark Zuckerberg wanted Facebook to become a "video-first" platform, The Wall Street Journal reported. Despite this investment, Watch has struggled to find viewers. Half of adult Facebook users have never heard of Watch, while 24% have heard of it but have never used it, according to a survey by researcher The Diffusion Group.
The revival of "The Real World" is Facebook's latest move as it attempts to build Watch into an advertising and marketing platform and open up another revenue stream. As its pitch to content creators and publishers, the platform will share revenue from its Ad Breaks system that inserts commercial spots in videos. Paresh Rajwat, Facebook's head of video products, told Variety that the company has added the breaks to Pages, which are public profiles created for businesses, brands, celebrities, causes and other organizations, in more than 25 countries.
Facebook wants to differentiate Watch from offering a passive viewing experience as other streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and HBO Now do with their programming. The social network seeks to cultivate communities around its shows by urging viewers to engage with the content and groups of friends, which boosts their viewing time. Facebook's Watch Party function helps friends watch shows together and share second-screen activity like polls, chats and gamified content. The Facebook Premiere feature lets users create TV moments with video, either live or prerecorded, and share them with friends. More than 50 million people a month watch at least one minute of video on Watch, and viewing time has surged 14 times this year despite slow traction early on, Variety reported.
If Facebook is able to make Watch a success with "The Real World" and other original programming, it could net a larger part of the online video ad market that's forecast to grow 30% to $27.82 billion and make up 25% of U.S. digital advertising in 2018, per eMarketer. Facebook will command 24.5% of all video ad spending this year at $6.81 billion (including Instagram) and be the top social media platform with an estimated 87% share of U.S. social media video ad spending.