Facebook to Lift Live Video to Top of Your Feed – And May Pay Celebs to Make It

Facebook is tweaking its algorithm and wooing celebrities to boost live streams in your News Feed

Facebook was already on a video binge, and live streams are its latest fixation.

The operator the world’s biggest social network said it plans to lift more live video to the top of visitors’ news feed as they’re being broadcast, and it is on the campaign trail to get more celebrities on board.

The company’s aggression on video is aimed at making itself as a pre-eminent place for video on the Internet, taking on Google’s YouTube and positioning itself as a digital-age television alternative. Facebook moves like changing its algorithm to surface more video and autoplay clips, as well as new products like live broadcasting, quickly lifted it to more than 8 billion video views a day and 100 million hours of clips watched a day.

Facebook’s News Feed will start classifying live video differently than normal clips, and the company is updating its algorithm so live content is more likely to show up high in your News Feed, according to a blog post Tuesday. The company said people spend three times more time watching a live video on average compared with the after-the-fact recording.

The company is also pitching its live video broadcasting to celebrities, including the potential to pay some stars to stream, according to a report by Recode. Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg is meeting talent agencies in Los Angeles this week to tout the live-video product, initially aiming to sign up about 100 testers broadcasting live on a regular basis, and may pay a subset of those people in exchange, the report said, citing people familiar with her pitch.

Facebook gave famous people priority status in its rollout of the live video product, too. When it introduced the live video-streaming feature similar to Periscope and Meerkat in August,  it was available to celebrities and public figures exclusively at first.

A Facebook spokesperson said the company is investing in live video and testing different ways to support partners so they begin experimenting with it. “Live is a really new format on Facebook and we’re just starting to understand it’s potential,” the company said in a statement. “We’ll be working closely with these partners to learn from them how we can build the best Facebook Live experience and explore with them potential monetization models.”