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.
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