Facebook’s New TV Feature Isn’t a Threat to YouTube

Facebook’s New TV Feature Isn’t a Threat to YouTube

Facebook’s New TV Feature Isn’t a Threat to YouTube. The feature, which will show up as a separate tab from the news feed in the Facebook app, will encourage users to subscribe to their favorite shows, see what their friends are watching, and find new shows that might match their interests. Facebook’s video platform has at least one natural advantage over YouTube: the social network’s ability to connect you with friends and others who are watching the same thing. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.” Banal as that sounds, he might well be right that the ability to see what your friends are watching, and to form social groups around certain shows, will be Watch’s main selling point. Getting people to think “Facebook” instead of “YouTube” when they want to watch videos will take a lot of work. But there’s another company that should be very worried about Watch: Twitter. And while Facebook isn’t big enough to beat Google through sheer scale, it has already shown it can do just that to smaller rivals, including Twitter. Its live video platform, Facebook Live, was viewed by many as a shameless ripoff of Twitter’s Periscope when it launched. Facebook Watch may look a lot more like YouTube than it looks like Twitter. Now Facebook wants to usurp Twitter’s role as a hub for online socialization around video and TV.

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Watch, a new platform for shows on Facebook.

This week, Facebook began rolling out a new hub for online video, called Watch. The feature, which will show up as a separate tab from the news feed in the Facebook app, will encourage users to subscribe to their favorite shows, see what their friends are watching, and find new shows that might match their interests.

The feature drew immediate comparisons to Google’s YouTube, and it does look awfully familiar. BuzzFeed’s Alex Kantrowitz described it as “more similar to YouTube than any other major video platform in existence today.” As with YouTube, there will be some shows produced professionally by corporate partners—including one live MLB game per week—but the company says the focus will be on videos uploaded by Facebook users. That makes it quite different from the likes of Netflix and fits Facebook’s self-conception as a platform rather than a media company.

Facebook’s video products already challenge YouTube in some respects. The news feed algorithm helps individual videos go viral on a scale that is harder for YouTube videos to achieve. While YouTube creators were irked early on by Facebook’s permissive attitude toward “freebooting,” the company has taken steps to address their concerns and even lure them away. Watch should make Facebook more viable as a destination for video, as opposed to just a place where people encounter video interspersed with news stories and updates from their friends.

Facebook’s video platform has at least one natural advantage over YouTube: the social network’s ability to connect you with friends and others who are watching the same thing. In a post announcing Watch, CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote: “Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.” Banal as that sounds, he might well be…

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