Facebook pushing toward original video content will take a big step forward Thursday with the launch of a new section, dubbed Watch.
The new tab, which Facebook said late Wednesday will launch for a limited number of U.S. users for now, will feature about 40 original series, with plans to eventually scale up to hundreds of shows. Facebook said it will become available to more users in the coming weeks.
The Mountain View, Calif., social network is hoping to tap into lucrative TV advertising revenue to boost its ever-expanding bottom line. If successful, Watch could stem the ad-load slowdown for the rest of the year that Chief Financial Officer David Wehner warned about last month when Facebook filed its quarterly earnings.
Facebook also hopes the Watch tab will open up a new method of advertising that doesn’t clutter users’ News Feeds, and keep its 2 billion users on its site longer.
Facebook said it will finance some of the shows itself at first, “to help inspire creators and seed the ecosystem.” TechCrunch reported that the company will take 45% of the ad revenues from videos produced by its partners.
In May, Reuters reported that video-content producers such as Buzzfeed, Vox Media and Group Nine Media were developing shows for Facebook.
After introducing a “Video” tab last year, Facebook said Watch will “make it even easier to catch up” with favorite videos from outside users’ News Feeds.
“Watch is personalized to help you discover new shows, organized around what your friends and communities are watching,” Daniel Danker, Facebook’s director of product, said in a statement Wednesday.
“Watch is a platform for all creators and publishers to find an audience, build a community of passionate fans, and earn money for their work,” Danker said. Shows will be organized into sections such as “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh” and What Friends Are Watching.”
When it debuts, Watch will feature a range of comedies, reality shows and live sports, such as: “Daily Nas,” where the rapper Nas interacts with fans; “Tastemade’s Kitchen Little,” a humorous how-to cooking show where children share recipes with professional chefs; “Returning the Favor,” in which former “Dirty Jobs” host Mike Rowe rewards people who’ve helped their communities; and weekly Major League Baseball games.