Facebook’s video hub Watch will become available worldwide on Thursday, just over a year since it launched in the US, the company announced today. Facebook’s fledgling video service will also open up the ability to monetise content to all creators, rather than just selected publishers as has been the case so far, though these capabilities will only be available initially in the UK, US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.
Ad breaks will then be rolled out across a second wave of countries in September, including France, Germany and Norway.
“With the global launch of Watch, we are supporting publishers and creators globally in two critical areas: helping them to make money from their videos on Facebook and better understand how their content is performing,” the company said in a statement.
Discussing the launch with reporters, Facebook’s head of video Fidji Simo gave some rare insight into how Watch has been performing so far. “Every month more than 50 million people in the U.S. come to watch videos for at least a minute on Watch, and total time spent watching video on Facebook Watch has increased by 14 times since the start of 2018,” she said.
The announcement also shed some new light on how Facebook is positioning Watch. Initially expected by some to be a Netflix-like platform, the emphasis on user-generated content make it sound more like a competitor with YouTube than with Netflix.
Creators who meet certain criteria will have the ability to run ad breaks on their content, with 55 percent of revenue going to the creators and the rest going to Facebook, the same split which YouTube uses. The criteria which creators must meet seem stricter than YouTube’s, though this may just be reflective of the differences in how the two platforms are used (i.e a follower on Facebook might be easier to gain than a subscriber on YouTube). To be able to monetise their content, Watch creators must:
- Have created videos longer than three minutes
- Have over 10,000 followers
- Have attracted at least 30,000 viewers who each watched at least one minute of content over the past two months
Whether these conditions and the revenue available from Watch will be attractive enough to creators to tempt them away from the more established YouTube remains to be seen. However, some might choose to operate on both platforms. When VAN spoke to Jenny Ericssons, head of partnerships at multi-platform network United Screens earlier this year, she commented that “all online video platforms are complementary to each other, rather than replacing each other”.
While it attempts to attract creators, Facebook might also have a task on its hands drawing viewers into its video service. The stats given by Simo seem positive, but as VAN reported last week, a recent survey from The Diffusion Group found that 50 percent of Facebook users had never heard of Watch, and only 14 percent said they watched content on the platform at least once a week.
Facebook remains confident though that the social experience it provides gives it an advantage over its competition. “It is built on the notion that watching video doesn’t have to be a passive experience,” said Simo. “You can have a two-way conversation about the content with friends, other fans or even the creators themselves.”