Just over a year ago, Facebook had officially launched its Watch platform, which the social network behemoth anticipates growing into an online video destination to challenge YouTube. After releasing Watch, Facebook has gradually added to the content catalog, including both professionally produced videos as well as user-generated content. As a part of the company’s broader push into video advertising, Instagram has also launched Instagram.
Facebook has just announced that it is rolling out Watch all around the world.
50 Million Monthly Active Users?
Facebook believes that it has made the Watch feel more social in various ways over the past years, including adding videos from Pages to the Watch platform, seeding shows “that have audience participation at their core,” and displaying videos your friends may have interacted with.
It further reveals that currently, Watch has over 50 million monthly active users (MAUs) within the U.S., the condition is just that users have to watch just a minute of content to qualify as an MAU. Total time spent on Watch till date has soared by 14 times, since the beginning of the year.
Unsurprisingly, Facebook is considering the social angle as a factor that can differentiate Watch from YouTube. Although YouTube since the time beginning has had a comments section, infamously known for its toxicity – where attempts to bring culpability by using real names, failed fabulously ages ago. Furthermore, we cannot ignore the fact that the majority of the YouTube viewers aren’t interacting with real acquaintances. This is where facets like Watch Party, come into the picture.
Watch Parties are a way for users to watch videos in real time together. CEO Mark Zuckerberg said the feature was already getting “real traction” during its testing on the exact same day when the earnings call took place.
In an effort to bolster monetization for content creators, and Facebook is also adding other tools to its suite of creative tools, the Ad Breaks program is being expanded.
Watch still lacks awareness and relevance
The broader perspective of the challenge is that many Facebook users are unaware of Watch’s existence, underlining the arduous battle that company has to conquer in promoting the brand.
Citing data from The Diffusion Group, MarketWatch noted that half of the adult Facebook users were unaware of the concept of Watch. However, the data was derived after surveying over 1,600 users.
Initially, Facebook buried Watch in its mobile app sidebar, but it didn’t prove to be quite helpful. But now the parent company of Instagram and WhatsApp has added a dedicated Watch tab to the bottom of the app’s interface.
Within a year 50 million MAUs is not a bad start but hasn’t reached where it needs to be to prove itself as a relevant player in the cut-throat era of competition where captivating users’ attention is equally important. For context, Facebook has 241 million MAUs in Canada and the U.S.
Moreover, without knowing the absolute base that the growth is coming off, a 14-fold growth in time spent doesn’t mean anything significant. Besides Facebook isn’t divulging Watch daily active users (DAUs), that can potentially provide more insights about the platform’s engagement.
Recently Zuckerberg railed against passive video consumption but I doubt the company would appreciate is Watch usage was predominantly passive since encouraging people to be more social around videos in real time is not a piece of cake.
Although launching Watch internationally will help the company gain MAUs encouraging more advertisers and creators to join, Facebook still has a long way to go before it challenges YouTube’s sheer dominance.