Nieman Foundation at Harvard
Holding algorithms (and the people behind them) accountable is still tricky, but doable
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Aug. 10, 2017, 12:19 p.m.
Business Models
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Ricardo Bilton   |   August 10, 2017

Facebook’s ongoing ambitions to push into video have been belied by a single uncomfortable truth: most people don’t go to Facebook expressly to watch video. Instead, for most Facebook users, video is just one content form appearing in the News Feed, without them explicitly seeking it out.

Facebook is making an effort to change that with Watch, the video destination page that it announced late Wednesday. Appearing as a dedicated tab on Facebook, Watch will be home to both 5- to 15-minute short-form videos, as well as longer, TV-style half-hour programs produced by creators. Like YouTube, the product it most closely resembles in its mission, Watch is designed to make it easier for users to discover and follow ongoing video series. Facebook will both personalize video recommendations, and highlight series under criteria like “Most Talked About,” “What’s Making People Laugh,” and “What Friends Are Watching.”

Publishers, as you might expect, are eager to get involved with the effort, which holds the promise of being a viable new revenue stream. Mid-roll ads will be a part of the equation down the line, with Facebook collecting 45 percent of ad revenue, according to TechCrunch.

The Atlantic, for example, is producing two series for Watch: “Animalism” will cover new animal discoveries around the world, while “Myths You Learn in School” will debunk some of the more persistent half-truths taught in classrooms. Mashable, too, is producing a pair of shows, “What’s Your Mutt?” and “DIY Costume Squad.” Business Insider is creating four shows, including one starring Neil deGrasse Tyson. And Quartz will create shows “that follow compelling characters and groundbreaking science shaping the future of the global economy.”

Facebook says that Watch will work for a wide variety of shows, including programs that engage fans, shows that have a consistent narrative or theme, and live events (Major League Baseball, for example, will broadcast one game a week on Facebook).

Facebook is opening up Watch to a limited number of users and video creators for now, with plans to expand things after its initial testing.

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Holding algorithms (and the people behind them) accountable is still tricky, but doable
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