Facebook announced today that its Watch streaming video service is expanding beyond the borders of the United States to embrace the rest of the world. Facebook Watch is intended as a competitor to YouTube, which receives 1.8 billion active users per month, compared to about 2.2 billion for Facebook as a whole.
(Disclosure: Facebook Watch content partnerships include CNET, GameSpot, and CBS, which are owned by the same parent company as Download.com.)
However, Watch is not an exact clone. Instead, it can tightly integrate the rest of Facebook's social network in the form of Watch parties, which lets you view a video with friends, family, or other like-minded people -- a practice that customarily requires everyone to be in the same room. Of course, you still have the option to view Watch content solo.
Since Facebook Watch's launch one year ago, the social network has also courted a number of websites and traditional media companies to provide clips, rather than relying largely on user-generated content. You can find exclusive videos from the major cable news networks, late night talk shows, and tech news from sister sites CNET and ZDNet. Facebook has also made some arrangements to stream live sports.
In effect, Facebook Watch straddles the line between YouTube and premium on-demand services like Netflix, with an optional chat room for people to discuss what they're viewing in real-time. You can also leave a comment that can be voted on and replied to later, like YouTube.
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However, Facebook doesn't let you sort comments according to vote rankings; unlike YouTube, you can't give a Facebook comment a "thumbs down." The closest thing to YouTube's "Top Comments" sorting is Most Relevant, which is sorted by "views, reactions, replies, and more."
For now, Facebook Watch is integrated directly into the main mobile app. But if it takes off, don't be surprised if it gets its own app and website, like the company did with Facebook Messenger in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
Facebook is also reportedly working on a musical talent show, though it's not clear yet if this would be directly connected to Facebook Watch.
- Facebook Watch, the company's competitor to YouTube, has expanded internationally after having been exclusive to the U.S. since its launch one year ago.
- Facebook has made arrangements with several media companies to provide exclusive content, in addition to the social network inviting user-generated videos.
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