Facebook is launching a new paid events option in order to provide another way for businesses to generate direct income amid the COVID-19 crisis.
As explained by Facebook:
"With social distancing mandates still in place, many businesses and creators are bringing their events and services online to connect with existing customers, and reach new ones. [...] By combining marketing, payment and live video, paid online events meet the end-to-end needs of businesses. Pages can host events on Facebook Live to reach broad audiences, and we’re testing paid events with Messenger Rooms for more personal and interactive gatherings."
As you can see in the above example, the new option will enable businesses and creators to charge direct on Facebook for access to their online events.
Tap on the 'Purchase Access' button and you'll be taken through the in-stream payment process, which is facilitated by your in-app settings.
Facebook will make the option available in 20 countries, for Pages that meet its partner monetization policies. And at launch, Facebook is also not taking a cut of any fees paid - though your attendees will still need to pay a 30% cut to the App Store if they sign up on iOS.
"For transactions on the web, and on Android in countries where we have rolled out Facebook Pay, small businesses will keep 100% of the revenue they generate from paid online events. We asked Apple to reduce its 30% App Store tax or allow us to offer Facebook Pay so we could absorb all costs for businesses struggling during COVID-19. Unfortunately, they dismissed both our requests and SMBs will only be paid 70% of their hard-earned revenue."
Apple's hard-line policy stances on in-app payments are set to come under more scrutiny, after Epic Games this week decided to defy the App Store rules and implement direct payment options within its popular 'Fortnite' app. Apple subsequently removed Fortnite from the App Store, citing the rule breach, but Epic is setting itself up to battle the tech giant in court over its payment rules.
Apple is already the subject of several antitrust investigations over its conduct around App Store payments, and Facebook, as you can see, has also taken its opportunity to sink a kick into the company. Whether those actions eventually force a change at Apple, we'll have to wait and see, but for now, businesses will not be able to take 100% of the income generated by their events. Unless they direct all interested parties to sign up via the web (or Android) instead.
It's not the first time Facebook has added paid event options.
Facebook already has similar subscription options for gaming streamers via its 'Level Up' program, while it also began rolling out paid events within its existing Fan Subscriptions program for prominent creators back in June.
This is the first time, however, that paid events have been made widely available, and it could definitely add another element for businesses looking at revenue generation options amid the ongoing lockdowns..
You can learn more about paid events, and eligibility, here.