Facebook has been jealous of YouTube for a while. Video content rules the internet and everyone knows it. With millions of hours of video watched online every day, it’s not surprising Facebook is now trying to consolidate its audience and the videos on their platform to turn it into a one-stop shop for video streaming.
Watch is Facebook’s answer to YouTube. When you click the Watch tab, you’ll find a whole bunch of video content from the pages you’ve subscribed to. In concept, it’s a great idea. Instead of sorting through posts, pictures of people’s babies, status updates, and events, you can switch over to Watch and get your daily dose of video viewing content without the hassle.
At the moment, however, usership is miniscule compared to other platforms like YouTube. With a decade of content already behind it, most people default to YouTube as their platform of choice when they want to watch video, so Facebook has a lot of work to do if they want to encourage people to get on Watch.
The problem: Watch is hard to promote. Facebook has gone as far as letting their app users know with notification icons when new Watch videos are available, but frustratingly, these notifications aren’t easy to turn off.
One of the defining features of Facebook Watch are Watch Parties, where people in different locations stream online videos at the same time. There have been over 12 million Watch Parties in Facebook groups alone, amassing eight times more comments than standard videos in groups.
Facebook seems to be particularly invested in making Watch a social experience where people can engage with particularly special moments as they happen through the traditional Facebook interactions of likes, comments, and shares.
Fidji Simo, Head of Video at Facebook, had this to say:
Watch is more than just a library of videos — it’s a place where people can follow video creators they care about, start conversations about videos with friends, and build communities of fans who share their interests.
Hmmm, sounds a lot like what you can already do on Youtube.
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With a built-in audience of billions, all Facebook needs is the content to engage them. We’ve seen multiple streaming services such as YouTube Premium, Netflix, and Amazon Video purchasing the rights to films and television shows, as well as funding their own exclusive video content.
Recently, Facebook has started tapping influencers and pages with large audiences to create content exclusively for them — for example, Humans of New York have created a series exclusive to Facebook.
We said earlier that Facebook Watch has a minuscule viewership compared to YouTube, but that doesn’t mean it’s dying. They have over 75 million people daily who spend one minute on Watch, and that number seems to be growing by the day.
Whether that growth will continue remains to be seen, but we think Facebook might just have the budget and audience to pull this one off.