Facebook to launch revamped video offering

Social media giant Facebook has made a move into dedicated video, pitting it against YouTube and TV networks

A screenshot of Facebook’s new feature Watch
A screenshot of Facebook’s new feature Watch

Facebook has revamped its video offering, creating a new, TV-like rival to YouTube and dabbling in original content in a bid to get people to spend even more time on the social network.

The new tab will be called "Watch" and showcase a slew of shows from the likes of BuzzFeed, Tastemade, ATTN, and Condé Nast, people familiar with the matter said.

Watch will be personalised so that users can discover new shows, based on what their friends are watching.  The new feature will let users discover videos from outside of their feed more easily, create watchlists, and have an easier way to follow shows created by artists, brands and publishers.

Viewers will also be able to see comments and connect with friends and dedicated groups for shows.

Watch replaces the Videos tab within the Facebook mobile app, which launched last year. It will also be available on desktop and via Facebook’s TV apps, including those made for Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV.

Facebook officially confirmed the impending launch of Watch on Wednesday afternoon. The company didn't specify a date for the launch but said that it would happen "soon."

Facebook sees high-quality, scripted video as an important feature to retain users, particularly a younger demographic that is increasingly flocking to rival Snapchat, as well as a means to rake in brand advertising dollars traditionally reserved for traditional TV.

"We hope Watch will be home to a wide range of shows - from reality to comedy to live sports," CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. "Some will be made by professional creators, and others from regular people in our community."

"Watching a show doesn't have to be passive," he added. "It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things."

Video has been available on Facebook for some time, but until now, it has mostly been dominated by amateur clips or short segments from news organisations.

The world's largest social network added a video tab last year, and has hinted for some time that it might make the move to producing original content.

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