In recent years, more Americans have ditched their cable subscriptions in favor of paid streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Now, it looks as if Facebook wants a piece of the pie.
According to Business Insider, Facebook is planning to launch its own original video content in an effort to retain users. The social networking giant hopes to launch around two dozen TV-like shows as early as mid-June.
Sources say that Facebook has already given the green light to multiple programs, including a virtual reality dating show. Their intended programming falls into two distinct categories: half-hour shows with a larger budget and inexpensive shows, ranging from five to 10 minutes in length, that would refresh on a daily basis.
The move reads as a direct attack on YouTube, which currently offers a $10-per-month subscription fee. In contrast, Facebook’s content would be available for anyone to watch for free, and it would be financially supported by mid-roll ads (or ads that appear in the middle of the video, as seen in YouTube’s free service). While 70-80% of internet users ignore paid search ads, choosing instead to focus on organic search results, video ads are often harder to ignore. In fact, there would be no easy way for users to overlook these advertisements completely.
But whether Facebook users will actually want to watch is still uncertain. Business Insider says that these Facebook series will appear on users’ timelines whether they want them to or not. And while the videos will reportedly live in a new tab specifically for this content, some experts are wondering why users would purposely seek this out. Facebook has supposedly nabbed some A-list stars for some of the content, but that might not be enough. It’s entirely possible that Facebook users won’t want to commit to long-form videos that play automatically and contain unavoidable ads.
Some Facebook users would probably prefer if the company cleaned up their timelines first, rather than adding more things into it. While Facebook is finally taking some steps to weed out fake news and spammy ads, the company has often been slow to act.
Numerous Facebook users filed complaints against a company called LuxStyle, which specializes in products like “foot detox pads,” after being sent products they never ordered. They were forced to fill out personal information before viewing products, which the company then used to send items and invoices after the fact. While electronic invoicing typically improves business transactions — nearly one-fourth of surveyed customers felt their relationship with their biller improved after switching to e-billing — these customers felt they were being purposely targeted and intimidated by these bills. They were charged additional late fees and threatened with legal action if they didn’t pay for these fraudulent chargers.
Facebook finally blocked LuxStyle for its questionable practices. But with more companies choosing to advertise on Facebook every day, it may be difficult for the company to vet these brands properly.
While many Americans rely on Facebook for important communications and even daily news, many experts are skeptical that they can make the jump from social media to just plain media.