For a while now, Facebook has been trying to figure out what to do with video, both in its app and on the site. The social network has been testing various UI changes, such as a live streaming tab and a suggested video FAB. In the States, there has been a video tab in place of friend requests for some time, for many users at least. Since the company gave up on pushing live video quite so hard, this has been home to video notifications and suggested videos as well. Facebook has reimagined this space once again, and it will now be home to a new video platform called Watch.
Whether it's live or recorded, all of the video content in this new section will be referred to as a Show. Each one will have episodes, and by subscribing to a Show you will be kept up to date as new episodes are added. Subscribing is as easy as adding a Show to your Watchlist. It sounds a lot like subscribing to a channel on YouTube, and I would bet that's no coincidence. There is a great deal of video content on Facebook, but its organization has never done it justice. That's exactly the purpose of Watch, which is designed to make it quicker and easier to access the video content you want to see.
The service will also offer personalized suggestions for new Shows, based on your viewing history, and that of your friends. This will include sections such as 'Most Talked About' and 'What's Making People Laugh,' based on the number of comments or haha reactions each episode has. Much like Facebook's live video, you will be able to react and add comments while viewing, if you wish, in a bid to keep alive the social aspect of watching content. Each show will also have its own Facebook Group as a place for further discussion.
Creators and publishers are being encouraged to use Watch, as Facebook outlines in its press release exactly which types of Shows it would be wise to produce in order to make money. It's looking for Shows that engage with a community, live streams that help viewers feel connected, and Shows with a consistent narrative arc. In order to boost the ecosystem, the company has even funded some Shows that are good examples of kind of content they want. There's more information for creators on Facebook's media blog.
Watch will be rolled out via a server-side switch to a small number of users as part of a limited test for the time being. Shows will be made available to a select group of creators at the same time, before being made widely available in the near future. Let us know in the comments if you're one of that select group, and tell us what you make of the new platform.