It wasn’t long ago that Facebook forever altered the face of online video with Facebook Live. Now, less than two years after it launched Live, Facebook is looking to change online video on Facebook again, this time with long-form original content.
Much like it did when it launched Live, Facebook is partnering with some well-known publishers and media companies like BuzzFeed, Vox, and Group Nine Media to create what Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg referred to as “anchor content” in its May 2017 earnings call. Reuters reports that the original content will come in two forms: Series of 20-30 minute episodes that Facebook will own and shorter series of 5-10 minute episodes that will be owned by publishers. Both content types will feature advertisements.
Facebook will is reportedly paying up to $250,000 for its longer shows and $10,000-$35,000 for shorter shows, for which creators will receive 55% of ad revenue. Though the long-form video features were originally slated for release in June to coincide with Cannes Lions, Recode reports that the launch date has been pushed back to late summer.
In entering the long-form original content game, Facebook is looking to make itself a platform that users come to not just for the content in their feeds, but for specific content that they can only find on Facebook. It’s looking to do what television networks, streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and social platforms like YouTube Red do: attract users with content they want and can’t get anywhere else.
It doesn’t end with this initial purchase original video content, though. Ricky Van Veen, Facebook’s head of global creative strategy, said last December that Facebook’s goal is building an ecosystem around its video tab, which is still being tested. This includes, according to Van Veen, “original and licensed scripted, unscripted and sports content, that takes advantage of mobile and the social interaction unique to Facebook.”
With these shows, Facebook’s looking to “kick-start” the effort. “Our goal is to show people what is possible on the platform and learn as we continue to work with video partners around the world,” said Van Veen.
With this original content, Facebook wants to be one of the new go-to places for original video content online. It’s not just a “me too” addition to Facebook’s feature set, but a clear indication that the way of the future (on and off of social media) is premium, original content.
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Facebook’s foray into long-form original content may share some key similarities with the company’s launch of the Facebook Live feature. As it looked to build the Live feature, Facebook paid influencers, creators, and media companies $50 million to create content for the platform. Those deals haven’t been renewed, but Facebook may look to do something similar with this new video content, albeit in a different way.
Where Facebook’s livestreaming deals saw the company paying for the promise of live content, deals for Facebook’s long-form content look more like the deals of traditional television. Facebook is paying for shows (some of which it will own) and will run advertisements during these shows. That said, Van Veen’s comments suggest that, like the paid deals-bolstered streams that launched of Live, these shows are meant to boost awareness of and participation on the platform.
It’s not yet clear how influencers might factor into this new long-form content, but as companies like BuzzFeed and Vox come into the picture, it may only be a matter of time before we see influencers join the effort, too. Particularly powerful with younger demographics, influencers may help Facebook tap into a coveted younger audience. If Facebook opens this platform to more creators like it did Facebook Live, long-form content could be the beginning of a new creative avenue for influencers.
As Facebook creators and stars find their way into new methods for discovery and creating content, we may even see Facebook’s long-form content continue to energize the rise of an entirely new class of influencers.