Facebook is going full tilt on its video ambitions, with plans to launch its original programming portfolio as early as during the Cannes Lions advertising festival in the second half of June 2017.

Back in March, Facebook launched a standalone video app for Apple TV users, which could now be one of the ways the social media giant will air its shows. On the Facebook platform itself, the second-tier videos, as explained in the next paragraph, will be under the existing video tab, which will be given a full overhaul.

The company is planning two types of show formats, say sources. The longer format will be about episode length, and “House of Cards” has apparently been used as a benchmark for the quality of programming. The second tier will be shorter videos with lower budgets, with one person comparing it to Verizon’s go90 streaming service.

Facebook’s global creative strategy chief Ricky Van Veen has been tasked with finding the right shows for both slots, and is actively hearing pitches from production companies and holding talks with their executives.

Though there’s some speculation that June might be too early for a launch, quite a bit of work has already gone into this project. Facebook reportedly already has A-list celebs in some of their new shows.

The genres are mostly going to be focused on teens and millennials, since Facebook’s rival, Snapchat, is typically seen as the more “hip” place to hang out. Snap Inc. is already talking to some of the same production companies for its own Discover section, which is expected to clash head to head with Facebook’s programming objectives.

Although entertainment and reality programming seems to be the focus, one report shows that there have been talks between Facebook and MLB to air one game a week to start with. Zuckerberg did say on the recent earnings call that Facebook was keen on getting into sports “at some point,” so that could also be on the cards soon after the launch.

There is now literally a swarm of companies following the footsteps of Netflix and YouTube. Though ad-based free streaming, such as YouTube’s content, is giving way to ad-free paid streaming, such as Netflix’s, Facebook is looking to go YouTube’s route, with mid-roll ads. They’ve already done tests with publishers of live and recorded videos, and could be ready to take it mainstream with their original programming.

To begin with, Facebook is buying the rights to some of the shows upfront, but they later want to work out revenue-sharing with publishers. The ones that they are paying for now will later run mid-roll ads to recover licensing costs.

The one big question that remains is this: will people actually come to Facebook to watch yet another slew of original programming when they can stream high-quality programming from Netflix and Prime Video directly to their large-screen TVs?

And that’s where the Apple TV video app might come into play.  But, with 1.94 million users on Facebook, Zuckerberg is counting on the content to draw people:

“The goal is going to be creating some anchor content initially that helps people learn that going to the video tab that that’s a great destination where they can explore and come to Facebook with the intent to watch the videos that they want.”

There aren’t any plans to convert this into a subscription service, however, and that’s a big risk in itself because Facebook has only tested mid-roll advertising with a relatively small group of publishers until now. Will enough advertisers flock to the new video initiative to make it worth all the effort?

That very big question will remain unanswered until we see some hard numbers from reliable sources once this ambitious project is kicked off.

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Source: Business Insider Nordic

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