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Why TV is Facebook's next frontier

Why TV is Facebook's next frontier
From Engadget - July 14, 2017

Most people consume video on Facebook circumstantially; they happen to stumble upon clips when scrolling through their News Feed. This all changed with the introduction of the company's Live feature, which debuted last year to the general public. Suddenly, Facebook became a video destination. The only way to catch a particular livestream was to log on to the site at that very moment. This, according to Facebook, creates an instant social environment, as people convene to watch and experience the same stream together.

"The thing that has been the most fascinating to me is what Live taught us," said Fidji Samo, Facebook's VP of Product during a presentation at VidCon last month. "When you pair video with social functionality, it allows people to come together around video content in a way that we really had not seen before. That has really inspired us to think about how video could be a source of bringing communities together."

The community element is apparent. Many of us already use Facebook to talk about the latest TV shows, so the idea here is that instead of watching a show elsewhere, we could just watch a show on the same platform. And, in order to get people coming back day after day, or week after week (for those ad impressions, of course), the shows ca not just be standalone viral hits -- they need to tell a story. That's where scripted original programming comes in.

Hence, Facebook has cobbled together a small group of partners and creators to deliver such programming. Nick Grudin, Facebook's VP of Media Partnerships, says that these are shows that "you can build a community around," which is exactly what Samo alluded to.

Facebook becoming a TV platform might sound like a stretch, but it's not the only social media company dabbling in the field. Twitter is doing the same with live news and sports broadcasts -- everything from weekly baseball games to live coverage of Wimbledon. Twitter also partnered with Xbox to stream its E3 coverage and with Nike to cover the attempt by runners to break the two-hour marathon barrier.

"Live streaming video is a strong complement to the live nature of Twitter," a Twitter spokesperson said when asked how video fits in with the company's overall strategy. And it's worked for them so far -- over 2 million watched its livestream of NFL games week after week and more than 1.1 million tuned in when it broadcasted WNBA match-ups.

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