Facebook is looking into the possibility of buying its own video content from creative partners, including original scripted and unscripted shows, as well as sports. The desire is to help “kickstart” an overall “ecosystem of partner content,” according to College Humor co-founder and recent Facebook team employee Ricky Van Veen speaking to Recode.
This isn’t entirely new territory for Facebook; the company has done deals with media organizations that provides them revenue in exchange for using its Facebook Live video broadcasting platform, for instance. Those were aimed at getting outlets with audiences creating exclusive content solely for Facebook, as a way to drive eyeballs to the new format.
Facebook buying its own content, both from the outset and via licensing, which it also says it would consider as part of its plans, could result in a more Netflix or Amazon Prime Video-style outcome, with owned content as a driver for the rest and vice versa. Facebook looks more inclined to use anything it produces as primarily a spark for getting third-parties creating, however.
But why even bother? Facebook has a lot of video on the platform already, and it’s user-generated content, which is low-cost and low intensity in terms of effort required in its creation.
The answer might be in the nature of the destination it wants video to be. Right now, it’s a pretty scattered experience; video is mostly interspersed throughout a user’s timeline, and on dedicated sections of individual pages. Facebook added a video tab to the site earlier this year, but it’s still not really a destination in the way you’d navigate to other video sites, apps or outlets.
Creating their own library of original content, including big audience draws like sports, could help Facebook chart a better path towards monetization on the platform both for itself and other partners who are already using the network to push their videos. And ultimately that will lead to more video content, which will in turn result in bigger, stickier audience and those lovely, lovely DAUs that FB loves so well.
Still, this isn’t a done deal, as Van Veen only said that they’re “exploring” the idea of funding original content. Even an exploration by Facebook in this area should be enough to make traditional cable and satellite providers stand up and start strategizing, however, since the social network’s outsized audience only stands to accelerate the general trend toward online viewing.
Of course, this also would make Facebook pretty irrefutably a media company, which is interesting given its stance on how its algorithms handle news distribution currently.