Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Facebook says 140 million people view its Watch video portal on a daily basis | Advertising Age

Facebook says bigger audiences are revving up revenues for publishers and creators on Watch, its rival to YouTube.

On Wednesday, Facebook revealed updated audience stats on Watch, the video platform it launched in 2017 to drive viewers to longer video programs where they would be more inclined to watch commercials, and it now has 140 million daily active viewers and 720 million monthly active viewers. Facebook, like YouTube, splits ad revenue with video creators; Facebook gives them 55 percent of the haul.

At the end of last year, Facebook said that 75 million people viewed Watch shows daily and 400 million each month. Viewers are counted if they only spend one minute watching videos, so Facebook is not measuring the audience in the same way as, say, a TV network would. 

Facebook also released some new details about how many creators are making money from the service. The number of pages that make more than $1,000 a month is up eight-fold in the past year, Facebook says.

The number of pages making more than $10,000 a month tripled in the past year, the company says.

Facebook declined to comment further, and it would not disclose the total amount of pages that are in the $1,000 and $10,000 club.

The ad-supported digital video space is growing, with YouTube, Hulu, Amazon’s IMDB Freedive, Roku, Snapchat and others building platforms for professional-quality programs that can fill brands’ need for the next TV-like commercial space. Media companies—CondĂ© Nast, Hearst, Discover, Meredith and National Geographic among them—are racing to offer programming to these players, too, to tap into new sources of revenue.

Many publishers have been more devoted to creating for YouTube for its larger audience and more mature ad offering—some of the top media companies control their own ad sales on YouTube, whereas Facebook is still building its platform and manages the ad inventory.

Also, since Watch videos also turn up on people's Facebook News Feeds and momentarily pique their curiosity, there have been concerns that Watch viewers are not as committed as viewers of YouTube or Hulu. (A Facebook spokeswoman says, however, that its audience numbers don’t include views from videos seen in News Feed.)

Facebook is touting Watch just as YouTube responds to renewed concerns about its platform. In recent weeks, YouTube’s problem with videos featuring minors resurfaced, with a New York Times story about pedophiles flocking to seemingly innocuous videos of children. Also, new questions arose about YouTube’s charged political atmosphere, when it had to “demonetize,” or take ads away, from a conservative commentator after offensive speech about a gay reporter.

Facebook has contended with similar issues, as has Twitter, but YouTube is by far the largest video player in the space. YouTube has about 2 billion monthly viewers, and people watch 60 billion minutes of video a day there, according to the latest statistics from the company.

Facebook pointed to Jay Shetty, a self-help inspirational speaker, as one of the creators making money from ads. It also highlighted Group Nine Media and BuzzFeed as two of the professional media companies creating for the platform. Group Nine owns The Dodo, the publisher that specializes in uplifting animal stories, as well as NowThis news and Thrillist.

Athan Stephanopoulos, president of NowThis, says the company is negotiating with Facebook on the renewal of two news shows that launched last year. Facebook has developed a news section in Watch, of which NowThis is a part.

“It’s a product we’ve seen a lot of opportunity around,” Stephanopoulos says of Watch. “We built a daily news product that our audience keeps coming back to on a daily basis, the engagement is high and the community is strong. So, we can continue to build on that.”


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