Back in 2014, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Facebook would be 'mostly video' within five years. Zuckerberg has described video as a 'mega trend', of the same magnitude as mobile, which is why they've made video a key focus moving forward - and why we can expect to see more video-aligned products and options added to Facebook's repertoire as the platform advances.
On this, The Verge has reported that one of Facebook's latest video updates will likely be the addition of a new group video chat app to compete with rising app Houseparty, while they're also adding a new TV show which will follow the controversial family of new LA Laker Lonzo Ball.
Here are three Facebook video updates of note:
According to The Verge, Facebook is developing a new group video chat app called Bonfire to quell the growth of Houseparty.
Houseparty (above), which was developed by the makers of Meerkat after that app folded, boasted 1.2 million daily users back in November, and has become particularly popular among younger audiences - which, as Snapchat well knows, is one way to get Facebook's attention.
The popularity of Houseparty is definitely on Facebook's radar - as noted by Instagram Live product manager Shilp Sarkar when they first launched live-streaming on Insta in November:
"The use case that caught our attention was people just hanging out on live, particularly young people. After school, they jump on a livestream and hang out. That use of live [video] is particularly interesting to us."
'Interesting' in this context meaning a rising number of people are doing it, and we want to own it.
The addition of a separate app is probably the best way for Facebook to tap into this - you can conduct group video chats via Messenger (which they introduced back in Decmber), but making it more immediate, and by adding dedicated features, Bonfire could give Facebook more opportunity to create a legitimate rival for Houseparty, and generate more buzz around the tool.
But then again, as noted by The Verge, Facebook's track record of separate app duplication is not great.
Facebook hasn't provided any details as yet, but we may see a new group video app from Zuck and Co. sometime soon.
2. The Ball Family on Facebook TV
If you're not a basketball fan, you may not be aware of Lonzo Ball - and more notably, his father LaVar.
A quick summary: Lonzo Ball, who was recently drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers, is considered one of the future stars of the league, something his father has reminded people of every day since his son became a top prospect. All three of LaVar Ball's young sons have legitimate NBA potential, and he's taken the opportunity to create and promote his own sports apparel company, and has gained national headlines by making claims like he could have beaten Michael Jordan one-on-one in his prime, and that Lonzo will be better than NBA legend Magic Johnson.
These factors combined make the Ball family reality TV gold, so it comes as no surprise that the Balls are set to become the focus of a new program - though that program will reportedly be made for Facebook specifically as part of their new TV content push.
Facebook's TV ambitions have been in development for some time, but we're yet to see the next level of their progress on this front and how it will relate to presentation within the app. If Facebook can start airing exclusive, engaging TV content, and present it in a way that aligns with viewing habits, they could be on track to become a genuine rival for traditional TV, which could bring huge ad dollars for Facebook, and significant new opportunities for Facebook advertisers.
As per ESPN:
"The Ball family show is one of two shows [Facebook] will use to launch a series of new projects."
It'll be interesting to see the focus of this programming, and whether it leads to the wider rollout of their video tab to all users to help increase focus on video content.
Also, expect to see new ways to cast Facebook video to your home TV in the near future.
3. New Research on Facebook Ads vs TV
In addition to these new developments, Facebook's also released a new research report which examines the performance of Facebook ads both against, and in conjunction with, TV advertising.
In the study, which looked at audience behaviors in the UK, Australia, Poland, and Germany, Facebook found that each platform has varying appeal to different viewer subsets, and that Facebook and TV combined have far greater reach potential. No surprises in either of those discoveries, but Facebook also found that while TV has better reach, Facebook ads resulted in better sales lift.
This, combined with another recent Facebook report which showed that Facebook sees significantly more usage during TV ad breaks, casts an interesting consideration on the viability of Facebook ads versus TV.
As noted, TV definitely wins for reach and exposure, and likely will for some time yet, but if Facebook can get more people watching TV through Facebook, by adding compelling, exclusive programming - which, whether you like them or not, The Ball Family show probably will be - and combine that with Facebook's advanced audience targeting and attention-grabbing capacity, tapping into where people are spending their time anyway, the potential value could be huge.
When Zuckerberg said Facebook would be mostly video by 2019, his statement was more driven by usage trends than anything else. But as those trends have evolved, Facebook also sees revenue, the huge potential ad dollars they can generate by eating into the traditional TV market share.
It still seems a way off, like we won't soon be switching over to Facebook to watch the latest TV shows. But consider this stat from YouTube.
View time of platform-originated, TV-like content is rising fast. It's worth considering how your business might be able to utilize video to tap into this trend as it evolves.