Facebook is taking its Watch video platform global just over a year after launching the streaming service in the US, as it beefs up competition with rivals Google and Netflix.
Watch, which launched in August 2017, allows Facebook users to access original content created by partner publishers, which can be generated by established brands and new video creators.
In a statement revealing the global rollout, Facebook’s head of video Fidji Simo said more than 50 million people in the US “come to watch videos for at least a minute in Watch”, while total time spent watching videos on the platform increased 14-times since the start of 2018.
The company said with global availability, Facebook users will be able to access a watchlist at the top of the Watch feed, featuring a collection of recent videos from pages they follow. There will also be a home for saved videos, while Facebook is also looking at “building new video experiences” allowing people to participate and contribute to content.
Increased availability for Watch will also see Facebook expand its Ad Breaks programme, which provides more opportunities from creators and publishers to make money from their videos.
Ad breaks will only be available on videos shown to audiences in the UK, US, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand for the time being, and there are certain metrics a creator must hit before being allowed to monetise their content through ads.
Revenue will be split 55 per cent for creators and 45 per cent for Facebook.
The company was also keen to push the social aspect of Watch, reiterating the service allows people to start conversations with friends, fans and even the creators of shows they watch. They have also worked to ensure it is easier for users to see what videos friends have liked or shared.
Watch has been likened since its launch to Google’s YouTube, but with the service going global it will also compete for advertising dollars and eyeballs with other major streaming platfroms including Amazon Prime and Netflix.
Facebook said it will spend up to $2 billion on new content for Watch, significantly lower than the $6 billion Netflix expects to spend in 2018 and the $4.5 billion Amazon Prime spent in 2017.
The global rollout of Watch follows another major deal boosting Facebook’s video aspirations: the company recently won the rights to stream Spanish football in the Indian subcontinent on a free-to-air basis.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back