Feb 15, 2017

Facebook is preparing to launch connected TV apps To compete with YouTube


Facebook wants its users to upload and consume more videos, and it’s making a couple of changes to the way that it displays and distributes those videos. Today at CODE Media, Facebook VP of partnerships Dan Rose said the company would also launch a series of apps for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV.

For Facebook, the ability to stream on the TV is just one more step in a larger effort to make its site and apps a place where more creators want to share their videos. According to Rose, that started with autoplay video ads that appeared in the news feed, and expanded with the introduction of live and Instagram videos.

Today the company announced a few changes to the way video would be displayed: First, videos will follow the audio settings of their devices — which means that if your device sound is set on, the audio will play. Second, Facebook will no longer crop vertical video, making it more like Snapchat today. Third, users will now be able to watch a video and pull it to the side of their feed while they scroll through their news feed.






But the big news is the introduction of streaming apps, which will allow users to watch Facebook videos from their TVs. Rose noted that Facebook has long had the ability to AirPlay or stream videos to an Apple TV or Chromecast.

With the introduction of new ways to watch video, Facebook is also signaling a move toward more professionally produced content. The company hired CollegeHumor’s Ricky Van Veen last summer, and he’s working with creators to create new kinds of content.

That could put Facebook in direct competition with YouTube, as a place for creators to build community around their videos. Before it’s able to do so, however, it’ll need to find ways to provide monetization tools and pay creators for their work. It’ll also need to provide more tools for rights holders to help them fight piracy.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Facebook was looking to license music from the big labels, partly in an effort to increase the number of videos shared on its site and mobile apps. While that wouldn’t make it a direct competitor to Spotify or Apple Music, it could help it compete against YouTube, which has a robust set of audio fingerprinting and ContentID tools.






It could also signal a huge new revenue stream for the music labels. Given the scale of Facebook’s user base — 1.2 billion daily actives and growing! — making music more accessible on the platform could be a new promotional stream for artists.

Having a platform for mobile, desktop, and now TV distribution should boost video production and viewership.

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