Facebook Watch, the heavily touted original video content initiative from the social media giant, doesn’t appear to be resonating all that well with users one year after its launch.
The Diffusion Group ran a recent survey of 1,632 adult Facebook users in the U.S. and the results were not encouraging for Watch. The survey of found that half of adult Facebook users have never heard of the free Watch video service, while 24% have heard of it but never used it.
But it wasn’t all bad news. According to this survey, 21% of users view shows on Watch at least monthly, 14% at least weekly, and 6% at least once a day.
"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."
Greeson also said that Facebook can afford to play the waiting game with Watch and continue making small tweaks here and there in efforts to attract larger audiences.
Lately, Facebook has been making investments in interactivity for video, which could ultimately help Watch find a bigger, more engaged viewership. In June, the company rolled out new gamification features that allow creators and publishers to add polls, quiz questions and challenges to live videos.
This month, Facebook acquired Vidpresso, a video technology firm specializing in interactivity tools for video.
“By joining Facebook we’ll be able to offer our tools to a much broader audience than just our A-list publishing partners. Eventually, it’ll allow us to put these tools in the hands of creators, so they can focus on their content, and have it look great, without spending lots of time or money to do so,” the company wrote in a blog post.
At the same time, Facebook has been chasing high-profile live sports deals like competitor Amazon. In July, 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.
Early this year, Facebook hired Peter Hutton, then-CEO of Discovery-owned Eurosport, to run its live sports licensing efforts.