A couple days ago Facebook introduced Watch, a way for people to watch new, more formal shows, on the network. Shows are made up of episodes which can be recorded and published by the producers or they can be streamed live.
If that sounds a lot like how TV has worked for much of the last several decades, you’re not alone. The main value proposition Facebook is selling here is that you can see how people are commenting and reacting to the show as you’re watching it. Even that sounds familiar though, as much of the past and current entertainment experience involves sharing it with others, whether that’s live or among friends in the following days.
Facebook has copped to funding some of these shows and is likely giving incentives to others to help them build up the habit of sharing episodes there as opposed to YouTube. It’s the network’s tacit admission that the current videos being shared aren’t enough to drive growth and subsequent ad revenue. Apparently amateur productions aren’t enough of a draw but also, notably, neither are the professionally-produced news shows from media companies Facebook has previously made major overtures and appeals to. Watch signals that it needs entertainment, not just news.
Along similar lines, Buzzfeed has announced it is working with Twitter to livestream a morning talk show along the lines of “Good Morning, America” and others. The show will cover the day’s top stories as well as trending topics, what’s popular on Buzzfeed and more.
Again…it’s a morning show, the kind of thing TV networks have been doing for decades, just distributed on a social network instead of broadcast to television sets. The main innovation seems to be that it eschews the gender equality the network shows have striven for and will be hosted by two men.
If “Basically TV, but with comments” is the best, most innovative approach possible, the myth of the Silicon Valley genius is officially overblown.
What’s striking is not just that but also how readily the social networks, Facebook in particular, will sell out the traditional media companies they’ve previously worked with in favor of their own content. It’s safe to assume that Watch productions will be given priority in the News Feed, coming at the expense of the videos created by news organizations who have been told over the last two years that video was the way to Facebook’s heart.