Facebook's push into becoming a destination for original TV shows begins Thursday with the launch of its redesigned video tab, Business Insider has learned.
The new tab will be called Watch and will showcase a slew of shows from the likes of BuzzFeed, Tastemade, Condé Nast Entertainment, and ATTN, people familiar with the matter said.
Facebook officially confirmed the impending launch of Watch on Wednesday afternoon following the publication of this report. The company didn't specify a date for the launch but said it would happen "soon."
Facebook sees high-quality, scripted video as an important feature to retain users, particularly a younger demographic that is increasingly flocking to its rival Snapchat. It also views such video as a means to rake in brand advertising dollars traditionally reserved for conventional TV.
"We hope Watch will be home to a wide range of shows — from reality to comedy to live sports," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post. "Some will be made by professional creators, and others from regular people in our community."
The next phase of video on Facebook
The new Watch tab will showcase episodic videos that follow a theme or story arc, Facebook said on Wednesday. Users will be able to create a watch list to keep up with new episodes of their favorite shows, which will also be available to watch on Facebook's TV app.
Among the different sections in the tab will be ones for the "most talked about" videos and ones that "friends are watching." Viewers will also be able to see comments from others while watching a show.
Facebook intends to feature a wide gambit of shows through Watch, including live shows that feature hosts responding in real time to users' questions and live events like Major League Baseball games. The company is also hoping to attract more premium, traditional shows, like those you might see on cable or broadcast TV.
Facebook initially hoped to debut its redesigned video tab and show effort earlier this year, but the date has been moved back several times as more show partners have been brought on board.
In typical Facebook fashion, only a small percentage of users will see the new Watch tab in the Facebook app immediately after it launches Thursday. But Facebook plans to slowly make it available to everyone in the coming weeks.
While some shows will be available right away to the small percentage of users with initial access to the Watch tab, roughly 40 shows will be included in the first full slate of programming scheduled to debut for everyone on August 28, people familiar with the matter said.
Facebook has been willing to pay millions of dollars for exclusive rights to premium, longer shows, while less expensive, shorter shows reportedly cost $5,000 to $20,000. The cheaper shows are permitted to be shown outside Facebook after they exclusively debut in the Watch tab.
While a Facebook representative declined to comment on advertising and other financial agreements for Watch, TechCrunch reported that content partners will be able to keep 55% of revenue from midroll video ads.
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