Facebook Watch launches worldwide: can it rival YouTube?

Social media giant’s streaming service is free but users have to sit through ads

Facebook Watch
Watch can be accessed on smartphones, smart TVs and computers 
(Image credit: Facebook Watch)

Facebook’s video streaming service Watch has finally launched in the UK, a year after making its US debut.

From today, anyone in Britain with a Facebook account can log into the streaming service through a web browser, such as Google Chrome or Apple’s Safari, or through the dedicated Watch app for smartphones, The Sun reports.

Views can also access Facebook’s Watch service with a smart TV, an Apple TV streaming box or a games console.

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Watch is free to use but content producers can feature adverts in their videos, says VentureBeat. Publishers keep 55% of the ad revenue, with the social media site “scooping up the rest”, according to the tech news site.

Facebook’s streaming service features a number of original shows, ranging from comedies to news broadcasts.

Among the most popular shows in the US are Jada Pinkett Smith’s Red Table Talk, with 2.9 million followers, and coverage of Major League Baseball (MLB), according the Engadget.

Facebook claims Watch’s audience has grown 14 times larger since the beginning of the year.

Around 50 million people use the service for a minimum of a minute every month, and that figure is expected to increase substantially now that the service has expanded outside of the US.

Can Watch rival YouTube?

Perhaps, but YouTube isn’t Watch’s only rival service.

As Facebook’s streaming platform focuses on original content, it will face stiff competition from services such as Netflix, Amazon Video and BBC iPlayer in the UK, says the BBC.

And despite Facebook’s claims of rapid growth in recent months, Watch doesn’t seem to have won over many users in its first year, the broadcaster adds.

Last month, a study by US-based research firm The Diffusion Group found that 50% of 1,632 Facebook users surveyed had never heard of Watch.

Meanwhile, 24% claimed they had heard of the service but never used it, while only 14% of respondents said they used the service on a weekly basis.

Newsday dismisses Watch as “lightly promoted and sporadically viewed”, but that could change as Watch goes global. Only time will tell if Facebook’s original content can draw users away from YouTube and Netflix.

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