Facebook’s latest change to Watch makes it more like YouTube

Facebook Watch’s transformation from a video section reserved exclusively for professionally made, episodic shows to videos of all kinds, from all kinds of creators, will soon be complete.

Facebook has been notifying video makers with Facebook Watch show pages that it will soon be turning these dedicated show pages into broader video pages, according to a Facebook email shared by a publishing executive. As a result, in a few months time, the show page will not be offered as a standalone page type, with its features being absorbed by the new video pages, said the email. Facebook will open a new feature called “Series,” which will allow publishers and other video makers to upload episodic programming on both their video pages and regular pages. (News of Facebook’s changes was first reported by Matt Navarra on Twitter.)

“We can confirm that we’re merging the Show Page template and Video Page template on Facebook; we believe this move will help simplify the publishing process for our partners,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement.

Mostly a cosmetic change, the change also reflects Facebook’s shifting priorities and strategies since launching Facebook Watch in the U.S. in the fall of 2017. Originally, Facebook had developed Watch as a place for professionally-made — and advertiser-friendly — video series from publishers, entertainment studios and other video programmers. Facebook’s launch partners included publishers such as Attn, Mashable, Hearst and Tastemade. But by June 2018, Facebook had opened up Watch to non-episodic videos.

With this most recent change, Facebook has fully acknowledged that Watch — like YouTube — is open for videos of all types from anyone, said publishing sources.

That doesn’t mean Facebook is going to stop tinkering with Watch, which has 75 million daily users spending at least a minute per day on the platform, the company announced last December. That’s still nowhere near YouTube, but Facebook has made efforts in recent months to become even more like YouTube: The company has a funding program through which it will pay publishers to make shows starring influencers — including YouTubers.

What is unclear yet with this most recent change is its eventual impact audiences and revenue for publishers that are distributing shows on Facebook Watch. In its messaging, Facebook said this move will make life easier for video makers because they will no longer be required to create completely new pages for every show. “We heard it’s a heavy lift to build new audiences from scratch on Show Pages,” Facebook said in an email message shared by a publisher. The switch should not impact post-performance, according to a source.

“They haven’t said anything about if monetization changes or is altered,” said one publishing executive. “That’s what I’m curious about.”

In its email, Facebook said it will be converting the show pages “in the coming months,” and has been contacting page owners to prep them for the change, sources said.

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