Facebook Watch, the company’s platform for original, licensed and creator community video content, is finally going global nearly a year after launching in the U.S.
Facebook is touting the international launch as an expansion of opportunities for creators and publishers around the world. In coordination with the international launch, Facebook Watch is expanding its Ad Breaks program to give more partners more ways to make money from their videos. The company is also offering new insights, tools and best practices for Pages in Creator Studio.
Even before the international launch, Facebook said that the audience for Watch had been growing. The company said that every month, more than 50 million people in the U.S. watch videos for at least a minute in Watch—and total time spent watching videos in Watch has increased by 14x since the start of 2018.
Despite the numbers from Facebook, some analysts and research surveys have found that Watch is still struggling to find an audience. A recent survey by the Diffusion Group found that half of all adult Facebook users had not heard of Watch.
"Despite the slow build of Watch users, it would be remiss to underestimate Facebook's long-term potential as a large-scale video provider," said TDG President Michael Greeson in a statement. "As we first noted in 2016, prominent social platforms like Facebook are looking for ways to exploit their massive scale to sell new video services to their users, much as Amazon has done with Prime. Watch is a small first step in that direction, as is the $1 billion Facebook set aside in 2018 to fund original programming to populate the service."
But giving Facebook’s international users a chance to access Watch should boost those audience numbers. And the expansion makes sense considering Facebook’s recent efforts to secure live sports rights around the globe.
Earlier this summer, Facebook paid £200 million ($264.4 million) to broadcast matches in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos from 2019 to 2022. That includes all 380 matches in 2019. In January, Facebook hired Peter Hutton, CEO of Discovery-owned Eurosport, to head up its live sports licensing rights efforts.