04 April 2017

DIGITAL - Facebook Launches TV Video App

Facebook’s new video app has now launched on both Samsung Smart TV and Apple TV, allowing users to save videos throughout the day and watch them when they get home.

The new app is part of Facebook’s concerted push into the video market.

Having already invested heavily in their live video feature, the app will provide a place where users can go to watch each other’s videos and more easily find other video content.

The move is potentially game-changing, opening up valuable television advertising dollars for the company and allowing Facebook to compete with market dominators like Netflix, YouTube, Amazon, and Hulu.

Facebook has already dabbled in live broadcast of sporting events, and is looking at creating original content as well.

The new app isn’t the only video-focused change that users can expect.

Facebook also announced that videos will play with the sound on by default, vertical videos will now expand to fill the screen, and videos will continue to play in a thumbnail window while users continue to browse.

These changes are each designed to complement the new video app, and make Facebook a destination for users who want to watch, and share, video content.
However, the launch of the video app corresponds tragically with breaking news about arrests related to a rape streamed live on the service late last month – one of multiple such incidents.

A Facebook spokesman told CNN that, "Crimes like this are hideous and we do not allow that kind of content on Facebook. We take our responsibility to keep people safe on Facebook very seriously and will remove videos that depict sexual assault and are shared to glorify violence."

Facebook may need to more comprehensively address the issue in order to prevent these incidents from casting a shadow over their efforts to pull more users into their live video services.

Facebook is far from the only live video service to experience such gruesome content – both Snapchat and Periscope have also been used this way.

However, Facebook is a much larger player in the mobile market.

The company’s efforts to combat fake news have been met with approval by a consumer base tired of constant misinformation.

Tackling the issue of inappropriate content being broadcast on their new video efforts will hopefully also be a priority.

Either way, Mark Zuckerberg believes that video is “a megatrend on the same order as mobile.”

He spoke about the company’s focus on video in an earnings call in March, and stated that the company will continue to “put video first across our family of apps.”

It’s unlikely that Facebook will go head to head with Netflix when it comes to original content or scripted video content.

But the new app, along with video-focused changes and Facebook’s slow rollout of mid-play ads, will certainly offer new advertising revenue, and new services for both users and content publishers.

About Tiffany Sostar
Tiffany is a published academic, an editor with the Editors Association of Canada, an independent scholar and researcher, and a self-care and narrative coach. She is particularly interested in the intersection of technology and identity - how our tools shape our selves and change our stories, and in how the nature of work is changing as we incorporate more technology into our daily lives. 

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