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Facebook Watch Rolls Out Internationally

Facebook has announced the international rollout of Facebook Watch, its video destination for episodic content, which first launched in the U.S. a year ago this month. The social media giant said Wednesday that the VOD service would be “available everywhere” from Thursday, giving publishers and content creators a worldwide market for their videos.

“With the global launch of Watch, we are supporting publishers and creators globally in two critical areas: helping them to make money from their videos on Facebook and better understand how their content is performing,” the company said in a statement.

Watch launched in the U.S. in August 2017 with the goal of offering users a place on Facebook to discover shows and video creators and to start conversations with friends, other fans and even the creators themselves. The company said that, since the launch, it had made the experience more social, including making it easier to see which videos friends have liked or shared, and creating shows with audience participation at their core. In June, Facebook said it would  launch a slate of new shows boasting interactive features such as polls and quizzes to fulfill the platform’s goal of fostering a sense of community between creators and users.

Hits so far on Facebook Watch include “SKAM Austin,” the transmedia show about teenagers’ lives, based on a Norwegian original, and talk show “Red Table Talk,” with Jada Pinkett Smith and her family, which has gained 2.9 million followers since debuting May 7.

Matthew Henick, Facebook’s head of content planning and strategy and media partnerships, said that, with the global rollout of Facebook Watch, the company was “excited to bring a new distribution platform to our partners around the world.”

Taking Watch global would also create new opportunities for content creators as the service expanded its video Ad Breaks program to enable more partners to monetize their videos, the company said. The Ad Breaks service officially launches Thursday in the U.K., Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, in addition to the U.S. It will launch in another 21 countries in September, including France, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Thailand. Facebook said the service would support both English-language content and content in various local languages. Further countries and language will be added in the coming months.

The company said it had lowered the threshold for publishers and creators to be eligible to make money from their videos. Those creating three-minute videos that have 10,000 followers, generate more than 30,000 one-minute views within a two-month period, or meet Facebook’s monetization eligibility standards would qualify.

Fidji Simo, Facebook’s head of video, said: “This is a really important moment for us. It’s been a year of real progress for Watch. Every month, more than 50 million people in the U.S. come to Watch, and the total time spent has increased 14 times since the start of 2018.”

Simo said it had taken a year for the service to launch internationally as the company wanted to beta test in one market first. She also said Facebook wanted to expand its Ad Breaks service at the same time as the international launch, to ensure that partners had a way to monetize their content.

Henick said the company would support “a wide range of video content from around the world,” including subtitling already-existing content on the platform. “In terms of broader strategy, we will look to fund shows with global appeal,” he said, adding that Facebook expected to work with a variety of producers on scripted programming, from traditional media producers like Endemol Shine to independent content creators.

Facebook is expected to spend between $1 billion and $2 billion on content deals for Facebook Watch over the next year. According to a survey published earlier this month by Diffusion Group, 50% of U.S. adult Facebook users remain unaware of the free Watch service, while another 24% have heard of it but never used it.

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