Facebook has kicked its push for TV-like shows into high gear and is aiming to premiere its slate of programming in mid-June, multiple people familiar with the plans told Business Insider.
Facebook plans to have about two dozen shows for this initial push and has greenlit multiple shows for production, according to people familiar with the discussions.
They said the social network had been looking for shows in two distinct tiers: a marquee tier for a few longer, big-budget shows that would feel at home on TV, and a lower tier for shorter, less expensive shows of about five to 10 minutes that would refresh every 24 hours.
One person said the mid-June launch premiere date could be pushed back.Another said Facebook initially planned to unveil its shows around its developer conference in mid-April but decided to debut in time for the Cannes Lions advertising festival, which starts June 17.The short video clips that autoplay in Facebook's News Feed have been a success for most publishers, but there's no guarantee that consumers will begin to think of Facebook as a destination for watching longer-form shows. The effort to snag exclusive shows is being led by College Humor cofounder Ricky Van Veen, whom Facebook hired in December to be its global creative strategy chief.His small team has been meeting with production companies and hearing pitches for episodic shows five to 30 minutes long that would live in a revamped version of Facebook's video tab.Another area Facebook is looking closely at is sports, and the company has reportedly talked with MLB.
"Sports is probably something that we'll want to try at some point," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said on a recent earnings call.
"Facebook hasn't figured it out," one partner said, whole another called it "Facebook released a standalone video app for the Apple TV and other set-top boxes in March that could presumably also be used to feature its original shows, the people said.
"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," Zuckerberg said during Facebook's last earnings call with investors.
Facebook sees high-quality, scripted video as an important feature to retain users, particularly a younger demographic that is increasingly flocking to rival Snapchat, as well as a means to rake in brand advertising dollars traditionally reserved for traditional TV.
Whether Facebook's users will embrace such programming is unclear.
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