Video services

Facebook's Video Future Still Hazy

It's hard to argue with Facebook's business strategy when quarterly earnings reports show the company continuing to grow in both audience reach and revenue. Still, the outlook for Facebook in the video sector remains hazy. CEO Mark Zuckerberg continues to promote video as the future for the social network while sending mixed signals about how Facebook is hoping to play in the space.

There have been a few developments surrounding Facebook 's video strategy recently. First, there was the news in December that Facebook is looking to acquire new content from video producers. The company told Recode it's exploring the idea of funding both scripted and unscripted shows, just like HBO, Netflix and Amazon.

Then came a report by The Wall Street Journal that Facebook is creating an app for the Apple TV box and other set-tops that would bring Facebook videos to traditional television sets. Sources for the WSJ are also speculating that such an app would be well-paired with premium long-form content and could help Facebook extend its advertising empire to a new screen.

As Telco Transformation's Adi Kishore reported just yesterday, Facebook has also mentioned synchronizing ad content on a mobile device with content that users are watching on regular TV. Again, this type of companion-screen advertising would help bridge Facebook's gap between mobile and television viewing.

Want to know more about video and TV market trends? Check out our dedicated video services content channel here on Light Reading.

BTIG analyst Richard Greenfield, however, believes that Facebook has yet to answer one very crucial question with regard to its video strategy. In a research note, Greenfield stated that "the unanswered question is whether Facebook's video ambitions will remain focused on enabling users to express themselves and communicate (the core Facebook mission) or will they ultimately expand to incorporate a full-scale entertainment offering?"

Zuckerburg stated clearly in the company's latest earnings call that "we're focusing more on shorter-form content to start" in terms of distribution, but he then added that "over the longer term, I think as that works, people will experiment with longer forms of video as well and all kinds of different things."

That second statement leaves the door wide open on what kind of long-form content Facebook might consider publishing in the future. As Greenfield points out, Facebook doesn't want to replicate YouTube, nor does it appear to want to become the next HBO. But does Facebook have a concrete alternative plan in mind? Or is the company's video strategy still very much a work in progress?

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

kq4ym 2/15/2017 | 2:51:46 PM
Re: Differentiation Unless Facebook has a really compelling new video scheme under the wraps, or it's existing user suddenly switch to using video massively, I'm a bit skeptical that the journey will be all that successful for the massive company. Trying to be all things to all people won't always work, but a clever use of tech that capture the imagination of billions of folks may.
danielcawrey 2/3/2017 | 10:12:54 PM
Re: Differentiation I'm sure Facebook has a very comprehensive plan on how they will pull this off. 

It's hard to disagree video is going to only become a bigger part of our internet lives. The Snapchat generation is proving this. While some people don't like the idea of live video, it's going to play a huge part in technology going forward. 
242ak 2/3/2017 | 5:08:41 AM
data and insight The one thing that might work in Facebook's favor would be the sheer volume of information the company has. Here's what Ricky Van Veen, now head of FB's creative strategy had to say about Zuckerberg -- and this was BEFORE Van Veen joined the company

"Facebook has gotten so big it's easy to forget that it's still completely controlled by a single 31-year-old human (worth $45B+). But it is! And if you believe ... that Facebook is the internet, then by the transitive property, this one person is arguably the gateway to the primary source for news, commerce and communication for pretty much the entire world. With one code push, Facebook could materially impact (perhaps fatally) the viability of most news publications. It could block Fortune 500 companies from reaching their customers as efficiently as their competitors. It could send an alert to every spouse in the world at once if their partner has actively been in touch with an ex. Just scratching the surface here, and again, that ability is with one person."
Mitch Wagner 2/2/2017 | 6:01:54 PM
Differentiation Hard to see where Facebook can differentiate itself from entrenched linear and OTT video providers.

On the other hand, for much of the population of the world, Facebook is the Internet. Facebook is where all the people are.

Maybe that's enough differentiation.
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