MTV rolls out Facebook Watch quiz show

MTV is the latest media owner to launch a quiz show commissioned by Facebook Watch in the U.K.

“MTV Stax,” which launched Feb. 18, will broadcast live from MTV’s studio in London three times a week for the next 10 weeks. Players of the quiz show, hosted by MTV news presenters like Tinea Taylor and Tyler West, have to answer 10 questions in order to win a cash prize of £1,000 ($1,292). Questions are themed around general entertainment, music and topical music news.

Gameshows are increasingly cropping up as a popular format for Facebook Watch. Earlier this month Global radio brand Heart also announced a Facebook Watch-commissioned game show called “Heart’s Triple Play.” Last July Facebook launched its own game show Confetti in the U.S., which later expanded to local versions in Mexico, Thailand, Philippines and Vietnam. Confetti launched in the U.K. in November.

“People love quiz games and love to earn money,” said MTV’s vice president of digital, Joanna Wells. “This is a new thing, we’ll keep looking at data and tweak where we need to. We’ll be as agile as possible. Heart and us have very different audiences, we’re mindful of that.”

Facebook approached MTV with the proposition in November. For the last two weeks MTV has run internal tests broadcasting the game show. Between 10 and 20 people worked on the show from legal teams to designers and producers, depending on the stage in development, according to Wells.

MTV UK and MTV Music UK Facebook accounts have 5 million followers on the platform and will both share the “MTV Stax” live stream but “MTV Stax” has to build its own page following from scratch. Wells is aware this won’t make the show an overnight success, the first show had live players in the hundreds, but building it up takes time. For comparison, Heart’s shows have generated between 25,000 and 30,000 views per episode. Confetti U.K. has a more varied range between 15,000 and 35,000 viewers per episode, although these are total viewers that have built up over time rather than live players.

Interactive game-show formats make a lot of sense for Facebook, which wants more people staying on the platform. The platform has extolled the virtues of growing communities around Watch pages, driving tune-in and interaction.

Facebook Watch’s international rollout got off to a slower start, and in general Watch commissions in the U.K. have been few and far between. U.S. Facebook pages generally have larger audiences than U.K. ones, making it easier to test interactive elements on Watch. That’s meant U.S. companies have been more useful partners for Facebook to work with and test the interactive elements on Watch. Some U.K. commissions like Barcroft Studios’ “Most Incredible Homes,” which let viewers vote for their favorite property, have peaked at 160,000 viewers.

“The community element is so important, when you invest in the community pages it pays off,” added Wells.

In the U.S. MTV has viewed Watch as an important marketing tool for its brands and shows, rather than a place to build a business. This spring MTV will launch “The Real World” reboot in the U.S., Mexico and Thailand with Bunim-Murray Productions as part of the platform’s wider efforts to build shows that star or are made by high-profile creators with big audiences. In the U.K. MTV is launching four more short-form series for social platforms, not exclusive for Watch, in the coming months with the aim of creating 12 a year. 

To drive more interaction around Watch shows in the U.S Facebook will fund shows with influencers who will bring ready-made chatty audiences. In the U.K. Facebook courted influencers at London event VidCon last week, hosting talks where self-help guru Jay Shetty spoke about how he made more than $1 million from Facebook ad revenue last year.

Typically U.K. media owners don’t have as many opportunities to partner with Facebook on projects it is funding, which makes them less reliant on irregular payments. Last November Facebook Watch cut off an important revenue stream for Mic when it didn’t renew its Watch series, although it’s easier for publishers to blame the platforms for their struggles.

“A lot of publishers have been a bit wary of platforms over the past year,” said James Hickman, director of digital at Global. “This has been a very open and very natural dialogue with Facebook, we all feel very positive.”

Wells echoed the sentiment. “We’ll have no reliance on [Facebook], we will work out where we are in 10 weeks. But we’re sensible around this. We’re mindful of the trail and the time we’re putting into it, we can scale up when we need.”

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