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Facebook Developing Video App for Apple TV, Other Set-Tops (Report)

Facebook is developing an app for set-top boxes including Apple TV, as a way to bring longer-form video content — and video ads — to big-screen TVs in consumers’ living rooms, the Wall Street Journal reported.

By pumping video to TVs, Facebook is hoping to capture a bigger slice of ad budgets earmarked for television. The social giant has been mulling a connected-TV app for several years, but the initiative took root last summer as Facebook decided to make video a top strategic priority, according to the Journal, citing anonymous sources.

Facebook declined to comment. To date, its biggest push has been to deliver more video to mobile apps, particularly live video via Facebook Live.

The potential move to TVs comes as Facebook has initiated an effort to acquire or fund original programming — including scripted and unscripted formats — from media companies and individual digital stars. That effort is being headed up by Ricky Van Veen, Facebook’s head of global creative strategy, who joined the social giant earlier this year from CollegeHumor.

Meanwhile, Facebook last week announced a change in its News Feed algorithm to favor longer-form videos. It will now rank videos that appear in users’ News Feeds to more heavily weight viewing-completion percentage the longer a video is, on the assumption that if you’ve watched a longer video all the way through it’s by definition a more engaging and relevant piece of content. Facebook also is experimenting with mid-roll ad breaks in longer videos.

It’s not clear when Facebook might roll out apps for Apple TV or other devices. If it does, getting a position on connected TVs would sharpen its competitive position against YouTube, which has made apps available on multiple devices and services for years.

As part of making its case to TV ad buyers, Facebook has launched a new marketing mix modeling tool that will let advertisers compare results of their ad placements across multiple platforms including TV.

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