While it hasn't been able to make its Watch platform an essential offering as yet, Facebook's latest video content push is focused on news content, which will likely tie into Facebook's broader effort to establish a new, 'trusted' news tab within the app.
This week, Facebook has announced a new funding agreement with a range of European publishers to have them create new, Facebook Watch-exclusive programming.
As per Facebook:
"We're pleased to be announcing our latest collaboration with the news industry in Europe – video partnerships with publishers in France, Germany and Sweden, to create shows for Facebook Watch. Our goal is to allow publishers to experiment with new formats, engage new audiences, and build sustainable revenue streams on our dedicated video platform. Publishers will have full editorial control of these shows and will work closely with our team to understand which stories, topics and formats are resonating with audiences. This is just the start for us in Europe, and we’re excited to see the breadth of content these new partnerships will bring to Watch."
The agreement will see the creation of at least 12 new, Facebook Watch exclusive news programs in Europe, including shows focused on sport, 'life hacks' and environmental concerns.
The latter is probably the most interesting element here. As noted, Facebook has also been working on a new, dedicated news tab for the platform, which would showcase news content from 'high quality, trusted' sources. Given that so many Facebook users now rely on the platform for at least some news content, it remains an area of opportunity - but the risk for Facebook lies in who, exactly, is the making the call on what qualifies as 'trusted' news content.
Given the widespread, and divisive, 'fake news' debate, a dedicated Facebook news tab could bring more criticism for the company, as it will be making the final call on which outlets are included, and which are not. That is a form of editorial judgment - which makes sense, Facebook wants to rid its platform of misinformation and less reputable sources wherever it can. But it'll also bring accusations of censorship and favoritism, which could blow up in Facebook's face, and create a whole new set of headaches - similar to the issues the company had with its 'Trending News' section before it opted to get rid of it.
At this stage, however, the focus is more on building Facebook Watch viewership, and bringing more people across to its dedicated video platform. Last month, Facebook also announced similar deals with various news providers in Australia, ideally bringing more viewers to Watch by giving them more relevant content.
The addition of news and current affairs content in the Australian market also seems to directly relate to a recent Facebook report on the Australian video consumption landscape, which included this overview of the types of video content users most commonly watch, and on which platforms:
It seems unlikely that Facebook's going to unseat Netflix and/or other providers as a key source of drama programming, given the focus on shorter, bite-sized video content, which makes news a logical point of focus for video consumption growth. If Facebook can, of course, get it right.
These new deals in Europe expand on the same - and as noted, are likely another precursor to Facebook's coming, dedicated news tab.
You can read more about Facebook's coming European news programs here.