Facebook’s TV App Gives Content Creators Yet Another Way to Get Their Work Seen

Not quite ready for original programming, but that could soon change

CEO Mark Zuckerberg has invested Facebook's dough in television campaigns.
Photo Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Source: Getty Images

It’s Facebook’s world. We’re just living in it, and soon, watching it on TV.

As part of a larger announcement about its other video offerings, Facebook revealed that it will soon launch a TV app for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs.

With so many other streaming apps available for smart TV users, this is Facebook throwing its hat in the ring. It could just be a play to rack up video views, but it’s also another option for creators to leverage yet another platform in hopes of becoming a standout star.

Facebook says the new app will let users “watch videos shared by friends or Pages you follow, top live videos from around the world, and recommended videos based on your interests.” And though it still doesn’t refer to itself as a media company, Facebook also hired someone to head up original video content—Mina Lefevre joined the company from MTV where she was executive vp of development and programming.

“For right now, Facebook is a media platform, not a media company,” Rebecca Lieb, a digital marketing and media analyst, told Adweek. “That’s only because it doesn’t yet create original content.”

What Facebook is doing is pushing out more of its lucrative video ad options for advertisers.

“If I were them, with all their resources, including their cash and also all of their billions of global users, I’d think they would have an obligation to try everything,” said Alan Beard, CMO of Fullscreen Media and co-founder of social media agency McBeard.

There are always going to be new platforms and methods of distribution. The content creators Fullscreen has helped develop over the years might mostly live on YouTube, but now apps like Snapchat and increasingly Facebook “are becoming their own way of reaching people,” according to Beard.

“Any time a new form of distribution comes up that allows them to reach their audience directly, we love,” he said.

With TV networks also turning to Facebook to livestream (think: the daily White House press briefing), this could cut off even more viewers from tuning in to traditional networks.

“If broadcasters could live without Facebook, they would happily do so,” said Lieb. “The term ‘frenemy’ becomes wildly appropriate. They don’t have to like it, but they will have to deal with it.”

Lieb pointed out that Facebook is now the place people go to see Saturday Night Live’s cold open instead of just watching the episode as it airs on NBC.

“For some people who were winning in the last generation of media, this all might seem troubling,” said Beard. “But for me and Fullscreen and other companies in this space, the golden age is still coming.”

When Facebook does add original programming, it will be joining Apple TV, which is also getting into the original content game.

“Facebook’s not going to roll out a Game of Thrones as their first effort, and Apple won’t either,” Beard said. “We’re all in a time of learning at the same time, which is a good place to be.”