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Facebook Actively Recruiting Celebs, Media Companies for Live-Video Broadcasts

Facebook has stepped up efforts to encourage more celebrities, social influencers, media firms and other notable personalities to use its live-streaming video features — and in some cases will proffer payments to those broadcasting over the social service.

This week, COO Sheryl Sandberg and other senior company execs are visiting Hollywood agencies and other potential partners to pitch Facebook Live and its potential to enable talent to connect with massive audiences. Tech news site Re/code first reported Facebook’s meetings with talent agencies about the live-streaming initiative.

“They believe it’s going to be the dominant live-video product in the marketplace,” said one source briefed by Facebook. Facebook Live, which the company has expanded to more than 30 countries, chiefly competes with Twitter’s Periscope.

But Facebook isn’t really putting a “pay-to-play” offer on the table for celebrities who live-stream video, the source added. Most of the support for partners will be in the form of on-boarding, studio setups and best practices for using Facebook Live.

Asked for comment, a Facebook spokeswoman said, “We’re investing in live video as we think it’s a great fit for our platform — more and more people are choosing to watch and share live video on Facebook because it is personal, real and authentic.” She added that “we’re testing different ways to support partners so they begin experimenting with Facebook Live.”

Facebook’s live-streaming outreach meetings are taking place in L.A. and other cities. The company is approaching all kinds of creators, ranging from traditional celebs and digital stars to experts like authors.

The push to pump up Facebook Live comes from the top. CEO Mark Zuckerberg, at a town hall Q&A last week, said live video “is one of the things I am most excited about, because it’s so raw and so visceral.”

For now, there’s no revenue model per se associated with Facebook Live, which doesn’t carry advertising units. But at some point, the social service could turn on ads for live-streaming to let partners generate money in the way it has been doing with on-demand videos on Facebook.

Facebook has already been working to bring on live-streaming partners. For Sunday’s Oscars, the company worked with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, which used Facebook Live to exclusively deliver red-carpet and backstage moments, while TV entertainment shows “Access Hollywood” and “Entertainment Tonight” also live-streamed some of their Oscars coverage.

And when Facebook last summer first launched the live video feature (only for verified accounts of celebrities and public figures), it had teed up several notables to kick the tires on the product. Those included Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, Serena Williams, Ashley Tisdale, Lester Holt, Martha Stewart, Michael Bublé and WWE’s Paul “Triple H” Levesque.

Facebook says its users now watch 100 million hours of video daily on the service; the vast majority of that does not include ads. Zuckerberg, on the company’s fourth-quarter 2015 earnings call, said that in addition to testing a suggested-videos feature, Facebook also is “exploring ways to give people a dedicated place on Facebook for when they just want to watch videos.”

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