Facebook takes on TV with new 'Watch' tab

Facebook has introduced a new "Watch" tab in the US.

Facebook has introduced a new "Watch" tab in the US.

Facebook has made its biggest move to date to compete in the television market by expanding its video offerings with programming ranging from professional women's basketball to a safari show and a parenting programme.

The redesigned product, called "Watch", will be available initially to a limited group in the United States on Facebook's mobile app, website and television apps, the company said.

It hasn't yet specified plans for a wider rollout beyond saying it would happen "soon".

Leveraging Facebook's bread and butter, the new tab will be personalised to each user based on what their friends and communities are watching.

The world's largest social network added a video tab last year, and it has been dropping hints for months that it wanted to become a source of original and well-produced videos, rather than just shows made by users.

In May it was reported that Facebook had signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to produce shows, both scripted and unscripted.

Daniel Danker, Facebook's product director, said in a statement on Wednesday: "We've learned that people like the serendipity of discovering videos in News Feed, but they also want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos."

Facebook said the shows would include videos of the Women's National Basketball Association, a parenting show from Time and a safari show from National Geographic. Facebook is already broadcasting some Major League Baseball games and that would continue, the company said.

Eventually, the platform would be open to any show creator as a place to distribute video, the company said.

Facebook faces a crowded market with not only traditional television networks but newer producers such as Netflix and YouTube, as well as Twitter and Snap.

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Reuters, with Fairfax Media


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