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Facebook unveils Watch originals platform

Facebook has unveiled its platform for original content produced in partnership with a host of media companies and creators.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg

Watch is the first dedicated place for Facebook users to view video and will feature live or recorded shortform programming from the likes of A&E, Hearst and National Geographic.

These include A&E’s Bae or Bail, which sees unsuspecting couples put their relationship and wits to the test as they’re thrown into terrifying scenarios.

Wiki What is produced by Hearst Magazines Digital Media and sees celebrities reviewing Wikipedia pages. The show is hosted by comedian Josh Gondelman, a writer for HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

We’re Wired that Way, meanwhile, comes from Nat Geo and is a science show about human behaviour.

Among the programming Facebook said it has funded itself is the previously reported Returning the Favor.

The series is hosted by Mike Rowe, who rewards people doing something extraordinary for their community by doing something extraordinary for them. Candidates are nominated by Rowe’s fans on Facebook.

Watch comes as part of the social media giant’s push to create a community of programme makers. It has been trialling an ad-selling service called Audience Direct that would allow creators to sell space directly to brands.

Earlier this year Facebook hired MTV exec VP of scripted development Mina Lefevre as head of original content development, reporting to video content chief Ricky Van Veen, who was hired last year from CollegeHumour.

Watch is personalised to help users discover new shows and is organised around what their friends are watching under sections such as ‘Most Talked About’ and ‘What’s Making People Laugh.’

Major League Baseball games will also broadcast once a week on Facebook, while other programming includes Tastemade’s Kitchen Little, which features kids who watch a how-to video of a recipe before instructing professional chefs to make it.

Facebook said it expects reality, comedy and live sports to feature heavily on the platform in the future.

“We’ve learned from Facebook Live that people’s comments and reactions to a video are often as much a part of the experience as the video itself. 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,” said Daniel Danker, director of product at Facebook.

Watch is in the process of being introduced to a “limited group of people” in the US and will be brought to more people soon, Facebook said. The firm also said it would be partnering with “a limited group of creators” on future content.


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