Facebook says Watch is friend, not foe to programmers and broadcasters

Facebook's Daniel Danker (left) addresses the crowd at IBC 2017 in Amsterdam.

AMSTERDAM—Facebook wants its new video platform hub, Watch, to be less of a competitor with traditional media and more of an opportunity for publishers and broadcasters to expand audiences.

Daniel Danker, product director for Facebook, showed up Thursday for the first keynote of IBC to evangelize for Facebook’s freshly launched video hub.

“There’s a real opportunity in Watch for traditional broadcasters to reach and build a new audience,” Danker said. He said some programmers like A+E, which has launched a show called “Bae or Bail” on Watch, are already demonstrating that potential.

Live sports are also coming to the platform, with leagues like MLB offering up streaming games. Danker said that the community aspect of Facebook, including the ability to comment and react in real-time, ties in well with live sports and sports fandom.

“We’re seeding the ecosystem for areas where content and community can come together,” said Danker, adding that it’s still somewhat experimental at this point. He said that it’s about learning what works best on the platform and sharing that information with creators and publishers.

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In terms of monetization, creators and publishers can insert ad breaks and choose positions for those ads to pop up in the video. They can also make branded content.

Of course, publishers like public broadcasters don’t monetize through ads. Danker said the public broadcasters typically tell Facebook that their aim with the platform is to build audiences outside of the traditional TV environment.

Danker said the publishers that really know how to engage their fans and communities, and the content that especially sparks conversations, does the best on Live and will likely do best on Watch.

Watch is currently available in the U.S. Danker said Facebook is hoping to learn more from the initial launch before offering Watch in other countries. He didn’t offer a specific timeline for international availability.

Watch is dedicated to shows, a new format for Facebook that is dedicated to themes. Watch is offering live sports, series and creator content. The tab serves up recommendations for users based on their friends, communities and likes. It also curates shows under tags based on user reactions to videos.