Facebook Watch begins rolling out original programming and viral videos

Anything Google’s YouTube can do, Facebook can do, too, and keep it and you confined within Facebook.

That seems to be the strategy, if there has been one, to Facebook’s video strategy over the past few years, starting with its own proprietary video platform, to the launch of Facebook Live and promotion of those videos to the top of your News Feed, and now with a new Facebook Watch section.

Facebook Watch began rolling out new and old original programming over Labor Day weekend.

From the company:

Watch will be available on mobile, on desktop and laptop, and in our TV apps. Shows are made up of episodes — live or recorded — and follow a theme or storyline. To help you keep up with the shows you follow, Watch has a Watchlist so you never miss out on the latest episodes.

Watch is personalized to help you discover new shows, organized around what your friends and communities are watching. For example, you’ll find sections like “Most Talked About,” which highlights shows that spark conversation, “What’s Making People Laugh,” which includes shows where many people have used the Haha reaction, and “What Friends Are Watching,” which helps you connect with friends about shows they too are following.

So far, Facebook Watch’s home page offers a scattershot approach. It looks more like a true YouTube competitor than a site that competes with streaming networks such as Netflix, Hulu or Amazon. Instead of a big bang with original programming, there’s an emphasis on funny clips from existing TV shows, potentially viral videos, and webseries.

The original programs include a live dating show, Make Up or Break Up, a new venture from Dirty Jobs host Mike Rowe called Returning the Favor, and a profile series called Humans of New York. Major League Baseball also is broadcasting 20 regular-season games live via Facebook.

For comedy fans, you’ll easily find clips from Jimmy Kimmel Live or The Daily Show on your front page — or perhaps that’s just Facebook already tailoring and personalizing my own Watch home page.

Regardless, Facebook’s biggest comedy splash so far for Watch is the acquisition of *Loosely Exactly Nicole, the semi-autobiographical comedy starring Nicole Byer that originally aired for one season last year on MTV. There’s also a new scripted comedy webseries, Strangers.

We’ll have to wait and see where Facebook Watch goes from here.


Sean L. McCarthy

Editor and publisher since 2007, when he was named New York's Funniest Reporter. Former newspaper reporter at the New York Daily News, Boston Herald and smaller dailies and community papers across America. Loves comedy so much he founded this site.

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