​Facebook launches rival to YouTube

What happened

Facebook is working on a video service that not only shows users’ own clips but TV programmes, too. A new Watch tab will appear in the social network’s interface that users can open to view TV shows, including those made specifically for the site. This includes short YouTubestyle videos, as well as more traditional television such as sporting events – Major League Baseball already broadcasts one game a week on the site. Facebook says the move is intended to make it easier for users to share programmes and react to them live while watching, although it probably has an eye on lucrative video advertising, too.

How will it affect you?

 So far, Facebook has rolled Watch out to a small group of users in the US, but it says it plans to offer the service more widely soon. It will probably take a while to reach the UK due to licensing issues, although the creators of these short shows and clips won’t face the same challenges as TV programme makers. When Watch finally arrives, your Facebook news feed will highlight what your friends are watching, so be aware that your every interaction with a video may be broadcast to others. If you make your own video for the new service, Facebook will take 45% of the ad revenue.

What do we think?

 There are already plenty of video-streaming services, from Netflix to YouTube, so we’re not sure the world needs another one. It’s not clear how viewers will benefit from using Facebook Watch rather than sharing YouTube videos in their news feeds. Both options allow commenting and interaction, but only the former lets Facebook rake in ad money. The company needs to pay for its servers somehow, but it must make sure it adds something to the mix, or it will do little more than fill our news feeds with unnecessary updates about who’s watching what.

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