Sep 8, 2020
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Online video: will Facebook Watch eventually rival YouTube?

Sep 8, 2020

Launched in late 2017, Facebook Watch's dedicated video tab has now attracted 1.25 billion users per month. It is a figure that may soon be comparable to the statistic for YouTube, which for now remains the undisputed leader in the world of video streaming services with over two billion users per month.

After a hesitant start, Facebook Watch ramped up partnerships to offer innovative original content, news media videos, sports entertainment and content by creators and celebrities to Facebook's 2.47 billion subscribers. 

Although less than half of the social network's users view videos with Watch, the platform saw its popularity increase during the lockdown.  

Content related to religion and fitness was particularly sought-after during the covid-19 crisis, so too were gaming videos. According to Variety, the number of hours watched for videos in this category jumped by a remarkable 75% between the first and second quarters of 2020.

Notwithstanding these encouraging figures, Facebook Watch is still far behind YouTube, which remains the most popular online video-streaming service with more than two billion users per month.

A flourishing market for music videos

In view of this situation, Facebook has decided to mount a direct challenge to its rival by hosting music videos on its Watch tab. 

As it stands, this feature is only available to users in the United States, Thailand and India, however, American star Katy Perry nonetheless chose Facebook for the first release of the new video for her single "Smile."

At the same time, Facebook Watch has also been equipped with a music recommendation system that gradually adapts over time to take into account users' personal tastes.

"Over time, the experience will become more personalized to your tastes based on artists you follow and videos you engage with. The Music destination in Facebook Watch will be available on desktop and iOS and Android mobile devices," announced Facebook in a press release.

The race for original content

Not content to take on YouTube's leading music-video category, the social network is also backing a range of original content that is designed to rival shows on Google's video platform. 

It includes the new season of "Steve on Watch" with American comedian and presenter Steve Harvey, "Red Table Talk: The Estefans" by Jada Pinkett Smith and the docu-series "The Biebers on Watch" with Justin and Hailey Bieber, which is markedly similar to the YouTube web-series "Seasons". 

It remains to be seen if "The Biebers" will attract as many viewers as its rival on YouTube, whose first episode was watched 32.5 million times in the week following its release.

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