Facebook closing in on program deals with Fox News, CNN, WSJ reports

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his company’s earnings call in April that part of the growth strategy for Watch is building in social features. (Facebook)

Facebook is reportedly close to announcing a series of partnerships with news outlets including Fox News and CNN for exclusive news programs on its Watch platform.

According to The Wall Street Journal, announcements could start coming as early as next week and one of the first shows for the platform will be a series from Fox News hosted by Shepard Smith. The shows will reportedly launch in July.

Facebook’s strategy appears to be mirroring the type of programming that works consistently on traditional linear TV, which is typically news and sports.

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Last year, Sports Business Journal said Facebook is setting aside a “few billion dollars” for global sports streaming rights. Earlier this year, Facebook hired Peter Hutton, CEO of Discovery-owned Eurosport, to head up its live sports licensing rights efforts.

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Facebook has set streaming deals with Major League Baseball as well as programmers including A&E and Univision.

Facebook Watch is still in the experimentation phase. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during his company’s earnings call in April that part of the growth strategy for Watch is building in social features that allow audiences to better connect with content and other users. Specifically, he mentioned Watch Party, a new feature that lets groups of users watch videos at the same time and interact.

“So what we're seeing so far is that a bunch of the content that has come onto Watch is good and is working and people watch it. We're continuing to treat the product to emphasize that kind of content more while building more of these social features,” said Zuckerberg, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript. “I'd say it's still pretty early overall in terms of the growth of this, but it's clearly an area that's important where I think we have something unique that we're going to bring to make this successful.”

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