Facebook Introduces Video Platform and 30-Plus Shows

Lesley Goldberg & Natalie Jarvey | August 11, 2017

Months after announcing that it would begin paying for original programming, Facebook has officially introduced Watch, a new video platform for shortform and high-end originals.

Watch will be a new hub for Facebook video programming that the social networking giant is positioning as a place for creators and publishers to find a tailored audience to build a community of viewers.

Facebook has been making strides to grow its video business over the last few years, through such product launches as Facebook Live and more recently the creation of a new tab that exclusively houses video. Watch is the culmination of that effort.

Fidji Simo, vp product at Facebook, tells The Hollywood Reporter that the entire Watch experience was developed around the idea that "you can watch videos through the lens of your friends." Although many other platforms have developed shortform programming of their own, Simo notes that Facebook's differentiator is that "it's all about bringing people together around video, whether it's friends or online communities of friends."

The product will include a number of features to allow people to view Facebook shows. There is a personalized "watchlist" for following along to the latest episodes as well as discovery sections where Facebook will highlights shows that are "most talked about" or "what's making people laugh."

Watch will house two types of programming for its video tab, including shortform series from digital producers and a handful of signature, television-quality series that Facebook is calling "hero" projects. The programming effort is being overseen by Ricky Van Veen, the CollegeHumor co-founder who moved to Facebook last summer to become head of global creative strategy, and former MTV executive Mina Lefevre.

At launch, Facebook is announcing some of the shortform projects it has in the works. They include a daily show with Nas and a kids cooking show from Tastemade called Kitchen Little. Watch will also house Facebook's live programming deals, including its weekly broadcasts of MLB games.

For its top-tier shows, Facebook is said to be looking to spend about six figures per episode for full ownership, which would give it the ability to release them to its global audience of 1.9 billion monthly active users. Examples of the latter include season two of former MTV scripted comedy Loosely Exactly Nicole and reality entry Last State Standing from the producers of American Ninja Warrior. Facebook announced Wednesday that one such project is Returning the Favor, which will be hosted by Mike Rowe.

At launch, Watch will be available to a limited group in the U.S. as the social media giant begins to learn from both users, publishers and content creators about what works and what doesn't. It is expected to roll out to more users from there. The service will be available on mobile, desktop/laptop and Facebook TV apps.The new Watch video tab debuts Thursday, with original programming rolling out Aug. 28.

Here is a list of some originals that will be available on Watch:

A&E’s Bae or Bail: Your boyfriend never hesitates to take care of spiders. But what if you come across a room full of spiders? Unsuspecting couples put their relationship and wits to the test as they’re thrown into terrifying scenarios. Who will step up and who will run for the door? Will their relationship withstand this test of terror?

All Def Digital’s Inside the Office is a workplace comedy that shows how companies like these tick from the inside. Fans get to see their favorite ADD characters in their work environment and all the antics that come with it!

Billboard’s How It Went Down features musicians recounting crazy and fascinating stories about how their hit songs were created.

Business Insider’s Great Cheese Hunt: Gooey, salty, creamy, delicious! No matter what form it takes, cheese is amazing! We’re going out to find the people who make it best, and we want to share it with you.

Brit & Co presents Tiny Houses, which explores bourgeoning interest and community around tiny living arrangements.

David Lopez’s My Social Media Life is a reality-show approach to a day in the life of a social media star.

Golden State Warriors' Championship Rewind is a behind-the-scenes story of the Warriors' 2016-17 championship season.

Hearst’s Daily Refresh shares fresh moments, stories, and news — all in one place.

Hearst’s Wiki What?: In this twist on a celebrity profile, an Esquire influencer sits down with a laptop and a featured celebrity guest. The influencer then gives the guest a closer look at some of the things about them that’s living out on the internet — from their Wikipedia page to a Google image search. We uncover all the angles and the celebrity reveals what’s true, what’s false and what’s kind of true.

Univision Deportes' Liga MX is the home for live LigaMX matches on Facebook.

McClatchy’s Titletown TX feels like a real-life version of Friday Night Lights. Titletown is the story of the 2016 Aledo Bearcats and their quest for a sixth state high school football title in eight years. This series captures the passion and community of big-time high school football in Texas.

MLB’s MLB Live is the home for a live blackout-free Major League Baseball game every Friday night on Facebook.

MLBs 12:25 Live takes a look at baseball from the lighter side, with an assist from fans.

MLS' ExtraTime Live lets you choose your own soccer adventure. Andrew Wiebe, David Gass and a slew of guests bring you all the interactive action, analysis, and crazy moments from the weekend in Major League Soccer.

MLS and Univision Deportes' MLS en Univision is the home for live MLS games on Facebook.

National Geographic’s We’re Wired That Way: Why can’t you get that pop song out of your head? You heard it this morning and now your brain has it on a permanent loop. Why can’t you stop singing it? Don’t blame the artist — blame your brain. Through a combination of video, graphics, and narration (including a host or voiceover), We’re Wired That Way will tell the fascinating story behind all the things that make us us: how your canine teeth tell the story of walking upright, why being in love makes you feel the way it does, why you instantly recognize a stranger you met six months ago. It’s part of the intricate narrative that is both personal and instructive to how we became the people we are today.

National Geographic’s Safari Live joins National Geographic guides for a daily action-packed safari experience, live from South Africa and Kenya.

Nas Daily will take his community around the world in his show.

NASA’s Science @ NASA is a show that dives into a single NASA science topic in each four- to five-minute episode and explores it in an understandable way.

NBA’s WNBA All-Access takes fans behind the scenes with the stars of the WNBA for an all-access pass to their lives on and off the court.

Nitro Circus’ Mic’d Up shows what it takes to be a Nitro Circus rider. Mic’d Up gives viewers a new perspective, as they're able to watch the action and listen to the thoughts of world-class riders getting ready to perform some of the toughest action sports tricks in the world.

PopSugar’s Pretty Unfiltered tackles the issues and insecurities everyone deals with but might be afraid to talk about, while providing solutions to help build self-confidence.

Tastemade’s Kitchen Little: Kids watch an instructional recipe video and then attempt to relay the right steps to a chef to see if they can recreate the dish.

The Dodo’s Comeback Kids: Animal Edition features determined animals facing difficult conditions or challenges and people who refuse to give up on them.

Thrillist features a new series based on the deep, delicious relationships between different communities and the cuisines by which they define themselves.

Tonio Skits’ The Novelas is a a comedic telenovela centered on the Novela family.

Vox’s Overrated: This series is a cynic's approach to origin stories, putting famous things you think you know in a brand-new light. We explore how some ubiquitous or grand elements of our lives had a pretty ridiculous rise to fame, examining the things no one steps back from and says, “Why do we know this?”

WatchCut presents Kids Try, in the vein of Kids Say the Darndest Things. Kids are asked to try fun, yet unfamiliar things, and their reactions are caught on tape. The first season focuses on foods from around the world.

Whistle Sports’ Every Fan You Know is a new take on the hilariously sharable ‘stereotypes’ format. Every Fan You Know gives a glimpse into the minds of specific fans and fan groups. Whether it’s “Every NFL Fan,” which takes a quick jab at every single team, “Every Boston Sports Fan,” which dissects every slice of New England fandom (good and bad) or even “Every Bandwagon Fan,” you’ll be sure to laugh, nod your head in agreement and/or tag someone you know in real life that fits every stereotype.

Whistle Sports’ Showdown features humorous showdowns, each with a challenge component where the first to break loses. Some examples include: Bad Joke Telling, Watch Ya Mouth, Saltine Challenge, Staring Contest, Thumb Wars and Rock Paper Scissors.

WSL’s WSL Surfing Sundays captures all the best waves and best surfing from World Surf League Championship Tour events.

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About the author: Lesley Goldberg & Natalie Jarvey Contributors