Move Over, Apple! Facebook to Spend $1 Billion Next Year on Original TV Content Too

The social network is ready to spend big on its new “Watch” video tab

Facebook is serious about its plans to become a go-to destination for video — and it’s opening its wallet to do so.

The social network is set to spend up to $1 billion on programming in 2018 in an effort to bolster its new video hub, Facebook’s Watch, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Watch continued its rollout this week, hitting FB’s users in the United States. The Watch tab takes up prime real estate on Facebook’s page, located right below the News Feed and Messenger icons on the left side of its page. Facebook launched its video platform with hundreds of new shows, coming from a myriad of partners, and including stars like Jessica Alba and Mike Rowe.

Although its heavily featured shows that run longer than 20 minutes in its initial push — like its “Humans of New York” spinoff or its “Ball in the Family” show chronicling Lakers guard Lonzo Ball and his family — most of the content on Watch have been quick-hit, sub-10 minute programs. Facebook had been offering up to $3 million per episode for premiere content earlier in the summer, aiming for shows like hit drama “Scandal,” and family-friendly comedies.

If the $1 billion figure rings a bell, it’s because Apple just set aside the same amount to jump into original content. The world’s biggest tech company is looking to add 10 shows, including shows similar to Netflix’s groundbreaking “House of Cards.”

Apple and Facebook are joining an increasingly competitive streaming market, where spending big bucks is the name of the game. Netflix is going to spend $6 billion on content this year, according to CEO Reed Hastings, and Amazon Studios is in the same ballpark at $4.5 billion.

Google-owned YouTube is doubling down on its original content as well, with YouTube Red adding a “Karate Kid” series in 2018. A person with knowledge of YouTube’s content spending declined to share with TheWrap an exact figure, but said it’s competitive with major players on how much the company will be shelling out.