Facebook’s Plan to Dominate the Online Video Marketplace

In what is almost certainly a game-changer in the online media landscape, last week Facebook announced it is officially getting into original programming. With the launch of its long rumored Facebook ‘Watch’ feature the social media giant has established a dedicated platform for professionally produced short-form content.

According to a Cisco.com forecast, video consumption will make up 69% of internet traffic by the end of 2017, and by 2019, that number is expected to reach 80%. With so much video content being consumed it was only a matter of time before the second largest site on the internet invested more seriously in the action.

What This Means for Consumers

As stated in the press release, Facebook’s aim in rolling out this feature is to ‘connect people, spark conversation, and foster community.’ The new feature will offer shows that follow a theme or storyline and will be organized to help viewers discover new shows. Some of the categories available will be, ‘Most Talked About’, ‘What Makes People Laugh’, and ‘What Friends Are Watching.’ The platform will also allow viewers to react and comment during live and recorded broadcasts similar to the way they now can in the Live feature.

What This Means for Creators

Content creators on both platforms have traditionally been able to monetize their channel based off user engagement. While Facebook measures comments, Likes, and Shares, the bottom line for both platforms is video views, with both platforms weighting both duration and number of views. Traditionally, Facebook views have been much easier to accumulate than YouTube views. On YouTube, a view is counted after the user has watched the video for 30 seconds. On Facebook, that metric is 3 seconds. The difference reflects just how different viewing habits are for end users of both platforms. On Facebook, videos appear in a user’s newsfeed automatically whenever a friend shares them. On YouTube, it is necessary to navigate to the site specifically to watch the video.

In the past, YouTube has been the go-to place for content creators looking to monetize their videos and many have been paid quite well. Last year, the highest paid YouTube content creator, PewDiePie, made a reported $15 million from his channel. By contrast, Facebook has not been the preferred destination for content creators specifically looking to make a career off posting videos. This was due in large part to the fact that Facebook previously offered very little in the way of monetization options. However, with Facebook’s new venture into funding and buying original content, as well as it’s plan to offer 55% of in-video ad revenues to creators using Watch, this could all change very quickly.

What This Means for Competitors

YouTube currently has over 1.5 billion monthly visitors to its site. An impressive number to be sure but still a far cry from Facebook’s 2 billion monthly users. So, how concerned should YouTube really be that Facebook is moving into its territory? If SnapChat’s any indication, pretty concerned. Three years after rejecting Facebook’s $3 billion bid to buyout SnapChat, Facebook has managed to copy nearly every significant feature of SnapChat and has undoubtedly aided in the pummeling the company has endured in recent months. The question now remains: can Facebook do the same thing to YouTube? This has yet to be determined, but with the backing YouTube enjoys by Google, it seems likely the first and second most trafficked sites on the internet are on a collision course to determine the answer.

The final question to ask then is: should Facebook be worried? Shortly after the announcement of Watch several outlets began to wonder, ‘Does anyone really want to watch shows on Facebook?’ It’s a prevailing question, and one that has yet to be answered. Historically however, when Facebook has rolled out a new feature they tend to do it right. This is in large part due to the fact that they have a readily available user base to receive feedback from and are always willing to adjust accordingly.

Whether or not Facebook Watch is the YouTube killer it hopes to be, one thing that is certain: Facebook has the financing, the audience, the patience, and the flexibility to put up one heck of a fight.