A year after launch and with millions invested in content, Facebook Watch is still relatively unknown among a majority of Facebook users. This is according to new research from The Diffusion Group (TDG), which found that half of adult Facebook users have never heard of the free Watch video service, while 24% have heard of it but never used it — despite the fact that Watch is featured on social network’s navigation bar and marketed heavily within the Facebook app.
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In mid-2018, TDG surveyed 1,632 adult Facebook users regarding their awareness and use of Facebook’s ‘Watch’ tab. According to this survey, 21% view shows on Watch at least monthly, 14% at least weekly, and 6% at least once a day.
Facebook launched Watch in August of last year with plans to spend up to $1billion on content, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. Yet, despite its commitment and the growing list of shows from high profile celebrities like Tom Brady and Lorenzo Ball, the platform has struggled to resonate with a majority of Facebookers. This is apparent when looking at not only the TDG study but at the view count of shows launched on the platform, which garner high numbers for their debut episodes but then experience a drastic drop. For example, “Five Points,” the first drama to launch on the platform, experienced more than a 90 percent drop in viewership when comparing its first episode to its 10th.
However, despite Watch’s slow growth, President of TDG Michael Greeson, says the public shouldn’t count the service out just yet.
“Despite the slow build of Watch users, it would be remiss to underestimate Facebook’s long-term potential as a large-scale video provider,” said Greeson. “As we first noted in 2016, prominent social platforms like Facebook are looking for ways to exploit their massive scale to sell new video services to their users, much as Amazon has done with Prime. Watch is a small first step in that direction, as is the $1 billion Facebook set aside in 2018 to fund original programming to populate the service.”
Greeson notes that Watch was never intended to generate Amazon-size audiences, and Facebook will continue to tweak the formula until it sees the results it seeks. And it has the cash to wait for years to make this happen.
“This is why technology companies are so dangerous to legacy media companies. Pure-play video, music, or gaming operators must survive on revenue and profits from those services, whereas Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon have such deep pockets and vast business empires that they can spin up a service in short order and lose money on it for years if it serves a higher purpose, like keeping Facebook users in the branded ecosystem for longer. For large tech companies, media services are commonly a means to a larger end, not ends in themselves.”