Facebook is apparently ready to dip its toe into the so-called 'stay-at-home economy', with reports circulating that the social giant is looking to offer original programming within its walls.
According to the Wall Street Journal, executives from Facebook are soliciting pitches for “TV-like” shows across six genres, including science, sports and lifestyle.
The claims come just weeks after Facebook unveiled a dedicated set-top TV app which will be rolled out on Apple TV and Amazon Fire devices as well as Samsung Smart TVs to give viewers “a new way to enjoy Facebook videos on a bigger screen.”
The Journal alleges that Facebook is interested in weekly series with episodes lasting 30-minutes. Citing sources familiar with the matter, the report claimed what Facebook is not interested in, are shows around hard news – a stance that is unsurprising given the platform’s refusal to define itself as traditional media platform and the furore around its role in the spread of fake news.
The company has reportedly signaled that it is willing to pay for some shows and offer a “premium digital rate,” for scripted content.
As of yet, the Journal said Facebook has declined to comment on the reports, but claimed that people familiar with the matter say the social network is contemplating stumping up low-to-mid six figure sums per episode, and that the push on original content is being led by CollegeHumor founder Ricky Van Veen who joined last year.
While Facebook has not been particularly forthcoming about its plans for original content, the online giant has been placing greater emphasis on video over the past twelve months.
In February, chief executive and founder Mark Zuckerberg outlined the company’s ambitions to become a destination for premium short-form video. He said during the firm's most recent quarterly results call that he believed people will "experiment with longer form of video as well and all kinds of different things," in the future, hinting that for the time being the primary focus was on short, sharable videos.
The arrival Van Veen as head of global creative strategy last June marked a turning point in Facebook's ambitions to commission, as well as distribute, content. When he arrived at the company he said in a statement: “I’ll be working with all types of creators and organisations to figure out how best to use the biggest network in the world to better connect people with engaging and meaningful content."
Not only could Facebook's reported focus on longer content open up new streams of revenue for its commercial strategy, which is said to have been trialing mid-roll ads in videos since last year, but it could also help increase its value.
The price of shares in companies such as Netflix, Domino's Pizza and Amazon have been increasing thanks to a shift towards what some investors believe to be a 'stay-at-home' economy, where consumers are turning towards companies that make it easier to remain in their homes to experience entertainment and food among other goods and services.
Facebook's focus on short video coupled with a potential move toward long-form is likely to present further competition to the services offered by YouTube and Netflix as well as traditional TV.
Netflix has said it plans to spend $6bn on premium content this year, while Amazon said in July that it would triple spend on original series in the latter half of 2017.