With Expanded Video, New Bid For TV Viewers Made By Facebook

By announcing the expansion of its video offerings with programming ranging from professional women’s basketball to a safari show and a parenting program, Facebook Inc made its biggest move to date to compete in the television market.

The company said that only a limited group in the United States will be able to access the redesigned product, called “Watch,” on Facebook’s mobile app, website and television apps, initially.

The company has been dropping hints for months that it wanted to become a source of original and well-produced videos, rather than just shows made by users and the world’s largest social network added a video tab last year.

In order produce shows, both scripted and unscripted, deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media had been signed by Facebook, said media reports in May.

“We’ve learned that people like the serendipity of discovering videos in News Feed, but they also want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos,” Daniel Danker, Facebook’s product director, said in a statement.

Watch would allow users to “chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community”, Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

Videos of a safari show from National Geographic, a parenting show from Time Inc and the Women’s National Basketball Association would be included in the shows, Facebook said. the company said that it would continue to broadcasting some Major League Baseball games that it is already broadcasting.

A health program with actress Jessica Alba and a relationship advice show, were its two original series coming to Facebook Watch, ATTN said.

Facebook said that the platform would be open to any show creator as a place to distribute video eventually.

Newer producers such as Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube as well as Twitter Inc and Snap Inc. presents a very crowded market for the Menlo Park, California, based company in addition to traditional television networks.

Meanwhile plans to launch its own digital movie and sports services was also announced by Walt Disney Co. However, for analysts, learning how to keep viewers hooked in a highly competitive market and how to attract streaming video subscribers, is something that the world’s largest entertainment company must learn.

An offering with Disney and Pixar movies and television shows in 2019 preceded by a sports-themed ESPN streaming service next year would be launched by Disney, announced the company in a major strategic shift.

However, investors are worried about uncertainty about Disney’s ability to make up for lost revenue from Netflix Inc and other sources, even while many analysts lauded the effort’s long-term goals.

In a shift that has hurt the company’s cash cow, ESPN, most believe Disney needed to respond to the migration of viewers from pay-TV packages to digital options sold a la carte.

And even though Disney does operate a digital service in Britain called DisneyLife, the company has relatively little experience with selling subscriptions and this is something that wil create new hurdles for Disney while selling directly to consumers.

There also needs to be investment in technology. Disney will provide the tech powering the new streaming services and will spend $1.58 billion to acquire majority ownership of BAMTech, the company that streams professional U.S. baseball, the company announced as part of the plan.

(Adapted from Reuters)

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