There’s enough stats floating around about how video is the future of social media. Earlier, in January 2017, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called videos a “megatrend” and explained “why he’s putting video first across apps belonging to the company”. And prior to that he made a big claim (which now seems more possible, though) — that in the next five years, people would consume more video than picture and text content. There has been a consistent and a conscious attempt at pushing more videos on the platform. It’s far more engaging, easier to make than before, and accessible, thanks to better and faster data. Not to forget that video ads are more lucrative.
Can the boss of Facebook be wrong? Not likely.
On August 9, 2017, Facebook took another step in the same direction. It introduced Watch, which it claims is a new platform for shows on Facebook.
The company says the shows will be made up of episodes which follow a theme or storyline. They will be both live and recorded videos. The concept of live shows on Facebook is very interesting on paper, but remains to be seen as to how it will fare in reality.
The Watch platform, Facebook says is for all publishers. It has opened it to a group of publishers in the US now. The company is funding people to use the platform, like its live video feature.
Imagine viewing your favourite football match, with your friends tuned in and all commenting on the same platform? Sounds cool, right? Facebook says, “So when you watch a show, you can see comments and connect with friends and other viewers while watching, or participate in a dedicated Facebook Group for the show.”
Facebook videos vs. YouTube videos: the difference
Its main competitor is YouTube. But one of the key problems with the comparison is that the platforms define views in their own terms. On Facebook, if you view a video for just 3 seconds, it’s counted as view whereas it is 30 seconds on YouTube. Another difference is the kind of audience that both the networking sites attract.
You come to YouTube to watch a video, but on Facebook, you’re skimming through the content and looking for interesting information, along with connecting with friends. On Facebook, we tend to share and watch shorter videos, as opposed to longer ones on YouTube. And, on Facebook people aren’t searching for tutorials or long explainer videos.
The bottom line is people on Facebook rather watch shorter videos (around a min. and a half, maximum) than long detailed ones. And, YouTube is the second biggest search engine, and you search for content there. It is a repository of video content.
And, Facebook videos work on ‘snowballing effect’. Views on Facebook depend on how viral and relevant the content is and the videos have a relatively short life, unlike those on YouTube. On YouTube you need to discover them.
Here’s where Facebook has played it smart.
It has taken on YouTube by providing a platform where longer content is rewarded. The idea behind Watch is to integrate video watching seamlessly into social networking. The shift started with Videos, then Live Videos. Now, Facebook wants up the game, both in terms of quality and watch-time with Watch.
Will Facebook Watch eat into YouTube’s market share ?
Facebook Watch will bridge the difference between the two platforms but we still believe that the two platforms will exist due to their inherent strengths. But Facebook definitely has the upper hand. And, it’s backed by stats which show that YouTube is already on the back foot.
I don’t remember seeing a single YouTube video on Facebook in the last 3 months. According to Quintly, Facebook native videos accounted for 84.47% of all videos on Facebook in the second half of 2016. It also found that Facebook native videos have a 1055% higher share rate.
Perhaps, 2018 will see a trend of publishers and creators moving to Facebook Watch. And, we believe it has already started. Facebook will do its best to get some of the top celebrities on its platform and ditch their presence on YouTube.
Here’s an example. Nas, a popular YouTuber, put a video on Facebook saying why he chose the platform. He says, “I started Nas Daily to share life with my close friends. So I have to put my videos where my friends are…and that’s here [Facebook]. I have 1.5 million views on YouTube…YouTube doesn’t help me get views. Facebook, on the other hand,…if you like my video, your friends will get to see my video as well. On YouTube, you’re just a username [indicating that there are real people on Facebook]”
Incidentally, Nas Daily is already a show on Facebook Watch.
What’s your take on the battle of video giants?
I believe YouTube will stay afloat but Facebook has definitely dealt a body blow to YouTube with the Watch. If one were to go by how native videos and live videos fared, it would be safe to assume that Watch will a definite success. The question therefore is about how successful should Watch become to eat into YouTube’s share of audience?
I’d love to hear your views as well. How has been your Facebook Watch experience? Do you think the platform has in it to take on YouTube? Tell me what you think as comments below.