Facebook is launching a personalized new platform for dedicated video. The announcement comes after months of rumours that Facebook might launch its own TV-like service.
The move puts the company against the likes of YouTube, Netflix and TV networks.
The new feature, called “Watch”, will allow Facebook users to discover videos from outside of their feed more easily, create watchlists, and make it easier to follow and watch shows they might be interested in.
The feature will have sections such as “Most Talked About,” which highlights shows that spark conversation, “What’s Making People Laugh,” which includes shows where many people have used the “Haha” reaction, and “What Friends Are Watching,” to connect with friends about shows they too are following.
“Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive,” said the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. “It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.”
“Watch” will replace the current Videos tab on the Facebook mobile app and be available for desktop and TV apps.
Around 40 channels will launch on the Watch platform on August 28. Facebook plans on adding a variety of content for a wide range of people, including documentaries, cooking shows, sports, and reality shows.
The company already has content lined up for launch, including parenting shows, a safari show from Nat Geo, Major League Baseball, and Women’s basketball. Facebook has also managed to strike deals with other media groups, including ATTN, BuzzFeed, and Vox Media to produce shows, according to Reuters news agency.
The social network said in a blog post announcing the feature that it has already funded some shows for “Watch”:
“We think Watch will be home to a wide range of shows, from reality to comedy to live sports. To help inspire creators and seed the ecosystem, we’ve also funded some shows that are examples of community-oriented and episodic video series. For example, Returning the Favor is a series hosted by Mike Rowe where he finds people doing something extraordinary for their community, tells the world about it, and in turn does something extraordinary for them. Candidates are nominated by Mike’s fans on Facebook”
Watch will initially roll out to a limited group of people in the U.S. Facebook says that it plans on bringing the experience to more people “soon”.