Will Facebook Video App Lean Towards YouTube Model? Zuckerberg Clarifies

Facebook video app push - will it lean towards Netflix or YouTube?

Yesterday, Facebook appeared to be gearing up to compete with Netflix using licensed TV-quality programming on a new video app they are developing. More information has come our way since then, and it is now known that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg actually wants to focus on short-form content similar to YouTube, rather than long-form programs like Netflix shows.

The information came at Facebook’s earnings call, where company executives clarified that their focus was not on competing on Netflix’s turf, but to continue being true to short-form content that Facebook video content has always been known for.

To confuse (sorry, clarify) matters even further, Zuckerberg said that the company will “experiment” with longer content, but their focus would remain on shorter-form videos. The reasons he cited was that mobile viewers – now their core target audience – face the problem of smaller screens and expensive cellular data.

Judging from the sort of mixed positioning they’re talking about – and from what CFO David Wehner said – the company looks like it will have some long-form programming, but only to “seed the ecosystem.” Wehner also confirmed that the company wouldn’t be doing any “big deals” because they are committed to sharing revenue with users who upload video content.

That’s YouTube all over again. It’s video, it’s short-form and it’s socially shared. The Facebook video app that the company is building for Apple TV and other streaming devices, however, could end up getting more premium content, which Zuckerberg called “episodic”. However, it’s not clear whether that’s “Netflix episodic”, which means actual episodes in a series, or “YouTube episodic”, which is just content that is regularly scheduled by the creator.

ALSO SEE: Facebook Video App Being Developed for Apple TV and Other STBs

At this point, it seems like there is, in fact, a vision for the Facebook video push, but it’s not all that clear what direction that vision will ultimately take. On the one side, mid-roll video advertising is a critical component for Facebook’s growth in the video space. On the other, the company seems drawn to short-form content, that can’t be as effectively monetized.

We don’t know which way the Facebook video push will swing, but if it’s a mash-up of several types of content, they’re going to have a hard time defining and positioning themselves to advertisers, who are currently their main source of income.

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