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40% of Facebook video viewing-time comes from sharing, says Facebook, as it reveals thinking behind Facebook Watch

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At IBC, Facebook Product Director Daniel Danker, offered conference delegates some insights into the thinking behind the creation of the social media giant’s new video platform, Facebook Watch – which launched to US users as a new ‘tab’ on the main navigation bar two weeks previously.

Danker explained that his company had witnessed “a tremendous amount of growth of video on Facebook […] and that has really shown us a number of interesting behaviours. One of them is that what makes video quite special on Facebook is that it’s entirely community-driven: the way people find video on Facebook is through their friends and their communities.”

Another behaviour was that “more and more people are now coming to Facebook with the intent to watch video. And that kind of deliberate, intent-driven behaviour really drove us to make a place on Facebook that is dedicated to video.”

Finally, said Danker, Facebook had found that “40% of the watch-time of videos on Facebook comes from the sharing behaviour as opposed to the initial post. And so it demonstrates just the sheer value of that community for discovery and distribution.”

Asked what type of content Facebook Watch would focus on, Danker responded that it was “all about shows,” which he defined as “a new format of video on Facebook that follows or tells a story that unfolds over a series of episodes.”

One of the crucial parts of Facebook Watch, he said was that it includes a ‘watch-list’, “which means that when you follow the shows, you’ll automatically know when there’s new episodes. And that delivers a lot of value to people who come to Facebook now with that intent to watch video. But, it also delivers a lot of value to publishers and creators, who themselves want to build a much more loyal audience.”

‘Show’ examples Danker cited seemed to be mostly ‘reality’-related, featuring ‘celebs’ as presenters, and appeared to support suggestions that Facebook Watch is being positioned as a competitor to Google’s YouTube platform. They include Returning the Favour, a show by TV presenter Mike Rowe, who “finds people in the community who have done something special, and returns the favour by doing something special for them.” The way he locates these characters, said Danker, is “through his fans on Facebook,” creating a relationship “between the content creation process and the community.”

Other examples include: a show by New York Times best-selling author Gabby Bernstein, also a life-coach, who releases new episodes of every week, going ‘live’ between them with the fans in her Facebook group, answering questions and triggering new topics; and a show from Nuseir Yassin, who became famous as the presenter of viral one-minute videos in hundreds of different locations around the world.

A more mainstream ‘reality show’ Facebook Watch has picked up is the Arts & Entertainment Networks’ Bae or Bail series, where couples test their partners’ dependability as they’re pitched into terrifying ‘fake’ scenarios. Only a few weeks after its launch on Facebook Watch it had notched up over 24 million views, with over 230,000 shares and more than 35,000 comments.

Asked if Facebook Watch planned to concentrate on ‘niche’ or ‘mainstream’ content, Danker replied that it was difficult to talk about niche content in a Facebook content. “The niche content that we’ve traditionally referred to as niche, where we think it’s kind of small audience, possibly too small to reach an audience on television, or even make it on to TV – well, that niche becomes pretty big when you aggregate and bring together all the audiences around the world that have a shared interest. So we see groups on Facebook which have over a billion people using them every single month.”

Danker went on to say that Facebook “sees a future where any creator or publisher will be able to make a show.” Facebook’s proposition allows them to insert ads into the episodes of their shows or use branded content if they have a sponsor, with revenues being split 55-45% in the publishers’ favour.

Danker did not reveal when the new Facebook Watch feature would be rolling out outside the US.

Photo: Facebook Watch

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