Facebook taking on Apple with $1B programming budget of its own

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After some delays, Facebook last month unveiled its Watch tab and announced programming deals with A&E, MLB and others.

Facebook has reportedly set a $1 billion budget to spend through 2018 on programming for its recently launched Watch platform, putting the social media giant on par with Apple’s reported content plan.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the amount Facebook is willing to spend on programming could change depending on how successful its Watch tab is with its users.

After some delays, Facebook last month unveiled its Watch tab and announced programming deals with A&E, MLB and others. The new service is being positioned somewhat as a competitor to YouTube, and is promising creators on the Watch platform will be able to eventually monetize their content through Ad Breaks.

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“We’ve been testing Ad Breaks over the past few months, and we will be slowly opening up availability to more creators to ensure we’re providing a good experience for the community,” wrote Nick Grudin, vice president of Media Partnerships at Facebook, in a blog post. He added that creators will be able to create sponsored shows using Facebook’s branded content tag.

RELATED: Facebook unveils YouTube competitor Watch with shows from A&E, MLB, Univision and others

Outside of that creator community, Facebook appears to be relying on short- and long-form content from programmers and sports leagues to fill out its Watch tab. And if Facebook has indeed earmarked up to $1 billion for that effort, it puts it directly in line with the budget Apple has set as well.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Apple could use the budget to acquire and produce as many as 10 TV series. And the budget would be in the hands of Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, the two Sony Pictures Television executives Apple lured away in June.

But Apple’s and Facebook’s reported $1 billion programming ambitions will have to contend with competition from other programmers with bigger war chests. Time Warner’s HBO spent about $2 billion on programming in 2016, and this year SVODs like Netflix will reportedly spend $6 billion, while Amazon could be willing to drop as much as $4.5 billion on programming.

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