It’s official, Facebook will be paying a select list of news publishers to create content for the company’s video platform, Watch. While there have been murmurs about the social media giant upping its efforts to produce premium, reliable news content (especially after being heavily criticized for allowing the spread of fake news during the 2016 election), the company confirmed the rumors today in a blog post.
“Earlier this year we made a commitment to show news that is trustworthy, informative, and local on Facebook,” wrote Campbell Brown, Facebook’s Head of Global News Partnerships. “As a part of that commitment, we are creating a dedicated section within Watch for news shows produced exclusively for Facebook by news publishers.”
It’s unknown how much the social media giant will be paying the publications, which include ABC, CNN, Fox News, Univision, ATTN:, and Mic. When the company first launched its Watch tab in August 2017, it was reportedly paying publishers somewhere between $10k to $250k per series to fund content, according to Reuters who cited sources close to the company.
But even with the funding, will anyone watch the new news content? When Facebook first launched its Watch tab, its premium content experienced massive growth followed by a massive drop. A&E’s Watch Series “Bae or Bail,” for example, garnered over 30 million views on its first episode, but its next four consecutive shows didn’t touch 3 million. The same happened with Bunim/Murray Production’s “Ball in the Family.” After the first episode accumulated over 26 million views, its next several episodes achieved less than three million.
Luckily for the company, news is relevant to a wider audience than a reality TV show where couples play pranks on each other (“Bae or Bail”). The push into premium news content also comes at a time when younger generations are spending less time on Facebook. Recent data from the Pew Research Center found that roughly half (51%) of U.S. teens ages 13 to 17 use Facebook, when just a few years ago that number stood at 71%. With older generations slowly migrating to Facebook and younger generations leaving, news content could prove more successful than the company’s last effort in original content.
The upcoming programming, which is expected to launch this summer, could also be the push needed to shift the viewing habits of older generations from broadcast to social media. Additionally, It could be an effective way for news networks like Fox and CNN to reach younger (24-50) audiences. According to recent data from Nielsen Media Research, in 2017 CNN’s median age was 60, while the median age of the Fox News was 65. With Facebook having over 100 million users ages 25-44, the social media site is the perfect place to attract younger viewers.