Could Facebook's New 'Watch Tab' Beat Netflix, Amazon, and YouTube?
By Lindsay Trobel
Facebook Watch will broadcast one Major League Baseball game a week allowing people to connect with friends on the platform while also watching live baseball.
Facebook has entered the streaming world. Facebook has launched the Watch Tab, which features new original videos funded by Facebook, as well as videos from other creators. Watch tab was introduced August 9th, 2017 and is designed for creators and publishers to find an audience and earn money for the work they do.
Despite its 2 billion users, the last few years have seen a decline in popularity of
Facebook compared to other social media platforms like Snapchat. In the past year,
Facebook has introduced Facebook Live and ‘stories’. Facebook tried to emulate the
ever-popular Snapchat stories, which allow users to share media straight from their
camera but were unsuccessful in making their platform more appealing to their audience. Competition between TV streaming has also picked up recently.
Cable TV is becoming less and less popular with the option to pay less for services like Hulu and Amazon Prime, which adds new episodes of many prominent shows the day after they air on television.
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The watch tab will be a home to new TV shows as well as short videos created by
publishers. Facebook Watch will start out featuring a show by Gabby Bernstein, a New York Times bestselling author and motivational speaker, who will use the Watch platform to interact with fans and answer questions in real time using a television show type format. Facebook Watch will also broadcast one Major League Baseball game a week allowing people to connect with family, friends, and fans on the platform while also watching live baseball.
But can Facebook rival other streaming services? The Watch platform seems like the safe option for Facebook. Facebook Live already allows users to publish and stream content like protests or commentary reviewing television shows. Watch seems like the place for people to post short videos, but not for entire TV shows to air. If anything, Watch might rival a service like YouTube, which caters to Internet celebrities who post videos for their fans. YouTube exists solely to watch videos, but with Watch, users can find videos their friends are watching and become engaged with their friends and even find a dedicated fan base of people.
Netflix CEO and Facebook board member Reed Hastings recently commented on Watch saying there wasn’t a conflict with premium services like Showtime and Netflix because “we are not bidding on the same shows. So not a big deal there.” Watch would not be offering to stream shows like House of Cards or shows that already have a home. Eventually, Facebook plans to expand their TV streaming, but for now they are primarily focused on publishing shorter videos.
The Watch tab initially debuted to a limited number of users who will be able to view
videos by creators who have been asked or paid to use this platform, but the service will soon be offered to all Facebook users and anyone will be able to publish and create a community for their own videos. Having a community to share videos with can certainly change the way we view streaming content and so far, Facebook is the only platform that offers this type of interaction with others online giving it an edge above the reigning video king, YouTube.
This possibility for interaction with other users comes right behind the announcement of Facebook’s new mission in 2017 to bring the world together by building a community that cares about the same things. While Facebook Watch is still testing the waters, this new tab certainly might someday prove to rival other streaming leaders like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and YouTube TV.
Photo by Christopher Cambell