- Facebook is preparing to launch its premium, TV-like video content push in mid-June, right around the Cannes Lions advertising festival, multiple unnamed insiders told Business Insider in a report.
- The initial slate of programming will include about two dozen shows across two tiers of content. One tier will include longer, big budget productions that would be structured like traditional TV episodes, while the other would focus on shorter, less expensive shows that run for five to 10 minutes in length and refresh every 24 hours.
- Offerings also span video formats, with a virtual reality (VR) dating show from Conde Nast Entertainment already confirmed to be greenlit. Facebook shuttered its Oculus Story Studio, the arm behind producing original VR films, last week, which lead some marketers to speculate VR is not a priority at the social giant, according to Ad Age.
On a recent Q1 earnings call, Facebook executives emphasized the importance of its push toward video as ad load continues to slow and affect revenue, especially in the back half of 2017. Long-form premium video content might come as one of the more dramatic switch-ups to Facebook's structure to date, as video on the platform has previously been limited to short publisher postings and live broadcasts which have proved difficult to monetize and have frequently been awash in controversy.
The company is apparently seeking to spur more adoption and revenue for video content with "Ad Breaks," its own take on the mid-roll format, though some advertisers, including WPP's GroupM agency, have expressed skepticism as to how much users actually engage with traditional video marketing on the platform.
Debuting a relatively robust slate of programming right around a huge industry event like Cannes might change some minds if the pitch is strong enough — and it will need to be considering how crowded the original digital video space is at the moment.
Facebook's two-pronged video strategy of TV-like episodes and also shorter, easily digestible content pits the social giant against both over-the-top services like Netflix — sources told Business Insider that Netflix's "House of Cards" is representative of the caliber of pitches Facebook has received — and also social rivals like YouTube and Snapchat.
The shorter video content refreshing every 24 hours is particularly reminiscent of Snapchat's ephemeral content model. Snapchat's parent company Snap Inc. has similarly brokered a number of deals for short-form video programming from major media brands including NBCUniversal.
Facebook is also battling traditional TV, which itself is grappling with a trend toward cord-cutting and declining ratings. Facebook recently unveiled a set-top box app that connects its video content to larger TV screens, pointing to just how much the line between digital video and TV programming is blurring as digital players push hard into the space.