This month, Facebook officially opened its new original video content tab ‘Watch’ to everyone in the USA. After a limited rollout and a slow expansion, the social media giant has added the new addition for the whole country. The feature is available on both the mobile app and desktop site and lets users subscribe to their favourite series rather than just randomly stumbling on one-off videos in their news feed. Facebook is looking to make their site a go-to destination for watching videos.
Rivalling YouTube with this new feature, Facebook will personalize watch lists for each user based on their likes and the likes of their friends and communities. Just like on YouTube, viewers can see comments, connect with other viewers and friends and share their thoughts, even become part of Facebook groups dedicated to particular shows. The site wants to create a social experience and engage its users, whilst offering creators the opportunity to find an audience and build engagement around their show.
The major difference between YouTube and Facebook’s offering is the way the viewers are approached. Whilst YouTube offers a selection of related videos and content of creators you have subscribed to, Facebook’s more personalized approach could help the company convert existing users into a strong video audience.
YouTube may still have an advantage over the new feature, with its strong search option that gives us access to the largest library of digital videos. The competitive edge that Facebook has, is that it already has a rather large user base of more than 2 billion members. Users who are just on the site to enjoy some photo browsing and seeing their friends update can be directed towards videos based on their likes, making it likely for them to take a look. So far, YouTube only engages its users when they intend do watch videos.
According to a Cisco forecast, by 2021, 82% of all internet traffic is likely to be made up of video content. This has led to an increase in ad spend on videos on social platforms and with videos getting the most engagement and views on many sites, it is clear to see why Facebook is moving in this direction. And with the new Facebook rights manager making it easier for creators to manage the rights for their shows, the new watch option ties in with the video related developments happening. We are curious to see when Facebook will roll out ‘Watch’ in Europe and if they will actually be able to compete with YouTube.