Another day, another online streaming option that helps take a stab at the regional monopolies owned by the telecom companies. Facebook is the latest platform to launch a video option that will contain original content, streaming television, and more. Designed to compete with YouTube and generate revenue via advertising, the new Watch tab on users’ screens will offer them the option to enjoy select content and tailor it to their preferences.
This isn’t to be confused with Facebook’s existing “clip”-based video functionality. Instead, this feature would be more akin to services like Netflix, Hulu, and network-specific apps like HBO Go, WATCH ABC, and the recently announced Disney and ESPN streaming apps. One of the key differences, though, is in Facebook’s understanding of its own users. Rather than producing entertainment content intended for a big screen, some reports say that the current lineup of launch content will be better suited to smartphone viewing. Think more cooking shows and less Game of Thrones.
One core group whose future isn’t certain during this leap to Facebook’s Watch is the modern-day entrepreneur who’s managed to secure income from vlogging a’ la YouTube. The platform has an extensive reach and already maintains growing viewership and subscribers to popular channels, and it remains to be seen how the professional YouTubers would take to the new option.
Interestingly, this model is something that media outlets have tried to monetize for some time, with little success. Newspapers and digital magazines are struggling to keep the lights on in a climate of free content, while book publishers tried and failed to strike back at major online retailers (and their very stringent terms and conditions) by branding their own publisher-centric book sales apps. As bestselling author Hugh Howey quipped in his Facebook post about the abundance of separate viewing apps and streaming platforms reaching the market, “Pretty soon we’re going to need someone to aggregate all of these different channels into a single package, all piped into our homes on a single cord, for one lump sum…”