Facebook doubles down on news video content

Business Insider US

BI Intelligence

Facebook is planning to launch a news section for Watch, the platform’s video on-demand service, this summer, Axios reports.

The social company is testing different video partnerships with 10 legacy and digital-first publishers over the course of a year. The feature, which will host videos at least 3 minutes long, will be the company’s first stand-alone destination for national news within Watch. 

Facebook is aiming to launch a dedicated news section in Watch for several reasons:

  • To cultivate users' long-form viewing habits. By hosting news content at least 3 minutes long, Facebook likely hopes that the average viewing time of Watch videos — which stood at 23 seconds in October 2017, according to Delmondo — will increase. As users become accustomed to viewing longer-form videos on Facebook, they may be less inclined to turn to other platforms to view lengthy content.
  • To catch up to the video news offerings of its social rivals, Twitter and Snapchat.While this will be Facebook’s first Watch news section, Twitter launched its 24-7 news streaming network, TicToc, in December. Moreover, Snapchat previously launched two separate daily TV-like news shows with NBC and CNN, although CNN has since shuttered its Snapchat offering. These social platforms are looking to cash-in on news media ad dollars, as spend broadly moves to digital — US digital ad spend grew 11.6% year-over-year (YoY) in 2017, while TV ad spend dropped 3% YoY.
  • To cater to consumers’ demand for digital news. Forty-eight percent of US consumers prefer news stories to other types of digital video content, making it the third most popular type of digital video after entertainment (56%) and how-to videos (51%), per Wibbitz. Moreover, 45% of US adults got their news from Facebook in 2017. These figures imply there may be a sizable amount of users who are interested in Watch’s news content.  
  • To combat the consumption of misinformation on its platform. Facebook’s current news partners could attract more trustworthy news publishers to distribute video through the Watch news video section. In turn, Facebook would progress on its goal of stemming the spread of fake news. Facebook’s social rival Twitter is also struggling with misinformation — on Twitter, false news is about 70% more likely to be retweeted by users than real news is, according to a study by MIT’s Media Lab.

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