Facebook's 'Higher End' Version of YouTube Said to Be Ready for Mid-August Launch


Earlier in May, news came out that Facebook was working to develop a slate of television shows that would combine short 5-10 minute videos with big-budget, cable-length dramatic series in a new video section on the popular social network. After a delay, people familiar with the company’s plans are pointing towards a mid-August debut for the new TV-focused Facebook update (via Bloomberg).

Facebook is said to be asking its video partners to deliver the first episodes of their “spotlight shows,” mainly focusing on the shorter and more inexpensive programs that will run under 10 minutes in length. The longer marquee series will launch “later on the site,” and presumably on the main iOS app and video-focused Apple TV app.

Facebook Video for Apple TV launched earlier in February

Despite being delayed numerous times already, the people close to the project said that “further delays could occur.” Eventually, the new video section of Facebook will combine both scripted and user-generated content, with Bloomberg describing Facebook’s aim to create a “higher end” version of YouTube. While the company is funding hour-long, TV-style shows, those close to the project said that it is refraining from directly competing with the likes of Netflix, HBO, and Showtime.

The company has been asking its partners to turn in the first episodes of their spotlight shows, the people said. Some already have finished these short-form, inexpensive programs. Facebook is also funding higher-end TV-style shows, which will be launched later on the site, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren’t public.

The new video section will offer the social network’s more than 2 billion users a mix of scripted and user-generated content. Facebook aims to make something higher-end than Google’s YouTube, but it’s not competing with video producers such as Netflix, HBO and Showtime.

Even though it doesn’t want to enter the market as a competitor to such big networks, Facebook hopes to use the TV content to gain a cut of the overall advertising market that’s traditionally associated with cable networks. To this end, Facebook has already hired former MTV executive Mina Lefevre to oversee its push into original TV shows, one of which is said to be a dating series from media partner Condé Nast.

Original TV production is becoming a focus for many companies that aren’t normally associated with scripted television content, with Snapchat having already launched short-form shows on its app, and Twitter gearing up for a big 24/7 live news network in partnership with Bloomberg.

Apple Music has also become Apple’s home for its first original TV content, having debuted Planet of the Apps in June and getting ready for the launch of Carpool Karaoke: The Series in August. Down the line, Apple intends to launch its own traditional TV-length dramatic content with shows from potential partners like J.J. Abrams, guided by two former Sony executives who are helping to create the slate of original TV shows.

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