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Will Facebook’s Local TV Deals Jump-start Facebook Watch?

Facebook's Latest Deals Welcome TV Content To Social Feeds

Facebook last week announced a series of new partnerships with many of the major Australian TV movers and shakers.

Premium news content from Australia’s leading broadcasters including Nine, Seven, SBS, Sky News and 10 is now available on Facebook.

The partnerships include funding to support the creation of exclusive news content for Facebook, along with enabling all parties to experiment with video and trial new formats.

The model mirrors one used by Facebook in the US, where it partnered with ABC News, Fox News and CNN, among others, for exclusive content.

Facebook Watch is Facebook’s dedicated TV-ish offering, which launched roughly two years ago in the US, before getting a global roll-out in September last year.

Typically, Facebook Watch's original video content is produced for the company by partners, who earn 55% of advertising revenue while Facebook keeps 45%.

So What’s The Score With Facebook Watch

Despite launching a year ago locally, awareness amongst marketers and consumers alike is minimal.

However, with major local broadcasters on-board that will inevitably change rapidly.

In the US, where Watch has been live for two years, it is starting to experience decent momentum, as Mark Zuckerberg noted in January:

‘On Facebook, I also expect this to be the year where Watch becomes more mainstream.

There are now 400 million people who use it every month, and people, on average, spend over 20 minutes on Watch daily.

This means we're finding ways for video to grow outside of News Feed, so it doesn't displace the social interactions that people primarily come to our services for.’

Video got a substantial downgrade in the Facebook algorithm in 2018, as the platform pivoted to favour user-to-user engagement.

As Zuckerberg flagged at the start of the year, although users enjoy consuming video it typically comes at the expense of community engagement.

Hence the launch of Facebook Watch and IGTV as dedicated video environments.

Despite tanking organic videos results on Facebook, many marketers have persisted. Ploughing more and more cash into production as performance has flatlined.

However, if Facebook’s latest partnerships can breathe life into Watch, then there is reason to be optimistic that weak organic video results could get a bump.

Not to mention the launch of new TV-style Facebook ad offerings in Watch set to follow, as per the US market.

Are TV Turkey’s Voting For Christmas?

The most obvious criticism for the major TV players is that their focus on short term profits from this partnership will hurt them in the longer run.

According to eMarketer, Facebook usage, per person per day, has dropped 10% since 2017.

Some of this comes as a result of the stripping out of video from the main feed in 2018, noted above.

Pumping more, and better quality, video back into Facebook will increase stickiness and time on site, no doubt resurrecting dimishing attention. 

Although, naturally, making Facebook a better, more compelling destination for users will not help TV sustain market share as an advertising medium. Not to mention aiding Big Blue in creating even better video offerings.

As WARC reported earlier in 2019, the percentage of marketing budgets available, outside of Google and Facebook, gets smaller every year.

Unlike the local market, publishers and broadcaster around the world are waking to the fact that their biggest threat comes from Google and Facebook, not one another.

Something which we have seen in both Portugal and Germany with new media partnerships being formed between traditional foes.

While, more recently, in the UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn claimed Google and Facebook should be taxed to pay for the BBC, due to extracting  'huge wealth from our shared digital space.'

To be fair to local broadcasters, these latest moves are also perhaps grounded in pragmatism as all are struggling with a demographic timebomb.

TV Viewing figures are, pretty much, as strong as ever with older viewers; however, the habits of younger viewers do differ somewhat. Traditional TV consumption with viewers sub-35  years of age has dipped steeply in recent years, as pointed out by Mark Ritson last week.

Therefore, perhaps from a broadcaster's perspective, these moves should be viewed more experimentally as they look to grapple with shifting video consumption habits.

There may, just, be a 'method to their madness'…

Or, maybe, not.


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