Facebook has been working very hard to establish itself as an inevitable competitor in the TV industry. Last month, the company hired former MTV executive Mina Lefevre as Head of Development. Before that, the company made it clear they were placing a greater emphasis on longer videos, and has even paid media outlets like Buzzfeed and The New York Times to use the live feature.
But, unlike YouTube TV, Facebook have not managed to acquire access to what people actually care about: popular content.
So far, the company has cracked streaming deals with US Major League Soccer and World Surf League — hardly anything the majority of users will be rushing to their screens to watch. While Facebook has its eyes on sports — which it believe aligns with its mission to connect people — big leagues like the NFL (whose broadcast rights have been sold until 2022), NBA (unavailable until 2025) or Premiere League are still out of reach for the company.
According to a report by Digiday, Facebook is working on a “spotlight module” tab that will feature all original content funded by the platform. The company is allegedly looking for shows with episodes that run anywhere between three and thirty minutes long.
The report claims that, while live sport is a priority, live news is not. Rather, Facebook wants to showcase scripted and unscripted shows around science, lifestyle, gaming and teens among others.
But the company’s biggest obstacle in attaining popular TV content is budget. Digiday reports that Facebook has the money for high-end digital content like that featured on YouTube Red, but it is unable to compete with the budget of major TV channels.
“They’re looking for stuff that isn’t YouTube content but YouTube Red content,” said a source told the publication. “They are trying to find that sweet spot where the content feels premium enough for advertisers to love it, but it’s obviously financially safer than funding a bunch of Game of Thrones.”
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