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Facebook Watch a Hit? Study Finds 40% of Users Tune In to Video Weekly

Just a few months after launching, Facebook’s Watch video platform has been surprisingly popular with the social-media service’s users — with 40% of U.S. Facebook users saying they use Watch weekly, according to a new Morgan Stanley survey.

Moreover, about 60% of those who use Facebook three or more hours per day said they use Watch on a weekly basis. And Facebook Watch users appear to skew younger, per the survey: 40% of people using Watch on a daily basis are 16-34 (compared with 24% of all Facebook users who access Watch daily).

“We are encouraged (and admittedly surprised) by this early Watch traction as it speaks to [Facebook’s] ability to drive adoption of new products,” the Morgan Stanley team led by equity analysts Brian Nowak and Ben Swinburne wrote in the report.

The findings are significant because “we view Watch (and video) as the next key long-term driver of [Facebook] engagement and monetization,” the analysts wrote. The Wall Street firm conducted the survey of 1,400 American consumers last month.

According to the Morgan Stanley report, survey respondents were shown screenshots of Facebook Watch and other features to help participants identify the exact feature they were being asked about. However, the report did not include survey results for average time spent viewing Facebook Watch, whereas the study found that 25% of YouTube users spend an hour or more daily on the Google-owned video platform.

The social giant launched Watch in the U.S. late last summer, in a bid to drive up video-viewing consumption by users and provide a home for longer-form, episodic content separate from Facebook’s News Feed.

Facebook Watch includes hundreds of shows from partners as well as programming Facebook has funded. Shows paid for by Facebook include Mike Rowe’s docu-series “Returning the Favor”; reality series “Ball in the Family” about L.A. Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball and his family; A&E’s couples prank show “Bae or Bail”; BuzzFeed dating show “RelationShipped”; and unscripted series “Bill Murray and Brian Doyle-Murray’s Extra Innings.” Watch is also the home of Facebook’s live-streaming sports, which have included weekly Major League Baseball games and NCAA college basketball matchups.

Roughly 75% of Facebook Watch users are viewing short-form videos (under 20 minutes) weekly, while nearly 50% view long-form content (20 minutes or more), the Morgan Stanley study found. That’s a breakdown similar to viewing behavior on YouTube, the firm’s analysts noted.

Still, YouTube “remains the online video leader,” the Morgan Stanley analysts wrote, adding that “the breadth content consumed on YouTube further reinforces its online video leadership.” About 78% of respondents said they have used YouTube in the last 12 months, compared with 43% for Facebook Watch.

Morgan Stanley AlphaWise conducted the online survey of 1,400 U.S. consumers aged 16 and older in December 2017. The margin of error for the survey is 2.6%.

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