×

Facebook to Fund Original Video Programming From Creators, Media Companies

Facebook is embarking on a plan to bring exclusive entertainment content to its platform, saying it will fund and license original programming spanning a range of formats — including scripted and unscripted shows — from media companies and individual digital stars.

The initiative is being headed up by Ricky Van Veen, Facebook’s head of global creative strategy (pictured above), who joined the social giant earlier this year from CollegeHumor.

It’s early days: The company didn’t provide details on exactly who it’s approaching for the initiative at this point, but a rep said it is reaching out to a range of partners. CEO Mark Zuckerberg has previously insisted that Facebook is a technology-platform company, not a media company, but as it moves into acquiring and licensing content it’s going to be hard for Facebook to stick to that position.

Facebook’s aim is to seed content for the new video tab in its mobile app, to make it more of a destination for users to spend time watching video content. The effort is similar to its program under which it has paid celebrities and media companies, including BuzzFeed, CNN and the New York Times, to produce video for Facebook Live.

Van Veen, in a statement provided to Variety, said: “Our goal is to kick-start an ecosystem of partner content for the tab, so we’re exploring funding some seed video content, including original and licensed scripted, unscripted and sports content, that takes advantage of mobile and the social interaction unique to Facebook. Our goal is to show people what is possible on the platform and learn as we continue to work with video partners around the world.”

Last week, Facebook expanded the availability of the Video to more people in the U.S. on iOS and Android. The Video tab — located on the bottom navigation bar on iOS and on the top navigation bar on Android — and is “a new destination for people to discover all kinds of video content they may be interested in,” the company said in announcing the wider rollout of the feature.

As for advertising, Facebook has recently tested serving ads in live video content and a company rep it will continue to explore different forms of monetization that will make distributing content on the platform a sustainable business for partners.

The new Facebook strategy is reminiscent of YouTube’s original channels launch in 2012, under which the Google-owned video site spent upwards of $200 million to fund content for about 100 channels. YouTube has since taken a different tack, producing and financing original TV series and films for its own subscription-video service, YouTube Red.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Comcast X1 DAZN

    Comcast Adds DAZN Sports-Streaming Service to Xfinity Flex, Sets Launch on X1

    DAZN, the digital sports service headed by ex-ESPN boss John Skipper, is now available to Comcast broadband customers on Xfinity Flex and will be available on Xfinity X1 this fall. It’s the first distribution deal for DAZN with a major U.S. provider since it debuted the combat-sports-oriented service in the States a year ago. In [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Raises Bar for Channel Verification, Stripping Some Creators of Verified Status

    YouTube is making it harder for channels to receive a verification badge indicating their authenticity — and the program’s new requirements mean that some channels won’t be eligible for verification. Like other internet platforms, YouTube indicates to viewers that specific channels are officially run by the creator, artist, celebrity or company they represent with an [...]

  • BuzzFeed - Katie Sitter

    BuzzFeed Taps Activision Blizzard's Katie Sitter as Head of HR (EXCLUSIVE)

    BuzzFeed hired Katie Sitter, most recently an HR exec at Activision Blizzard, as senior VP of people. Sitter, who starts at the company Sept. 30, will lead the BuzzFeed HR organization and oversee strategic initiatives related to organizational planning, talent acquisition, learning and development, performance management, compensation and benefits, labor relations, and diversity, equity, and [...]

  • Kano

    Kano Tipped to Launch ‘Star Wars,’ ‘Frozen’ Coding Kits

    Educational consumer electronics startup Kano is getting ready to release “Star Wars” and “Frozen” coding kits, according to regulatory filings. Recent FCC filings made by the company reveal plans to release a product called “The Force Coding Kit” as well as one called “The Disney Frozen Coding Kit.” Kano representatives didn’t respond to multiple requests [...]

  • Apple Arcade

    Apple Officially Launches Apple Arcade Game Subscription Service

    Apple officially cut the ribbon for its new game subscription service Thursday: Priced $4.99 per month, Apple Arcade offers unlimited access to over 100 exclusive games. Apple Arcade was released alongside iOS 13, the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system. Some of the titles available through the subscription package include “Lego Brawls” from Lego [...]

  • Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian out and

    Nielsen Now Tracks Celebs' Social-Media Touts of TV Shows

    Nielsen is providing a new lens into how celebrities and talent can boost the exposure of TV shows on social media. The measurement company announced that its Social Content Ratings solution now measures talent promotion of television programs across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. According to Nielsen, talent now drives nearly 60% of all social engagement [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content