Called Watch, the new area includes a wide range of videos of varying lengths, including scripted series, live shows that feature hosts responding in real time to viewer questions, and Major League Baseball games and other sports events.
Watch, which will be available through Facebook's mobile app as its own tab, desktop website, and newer TV app, was tested with a small portion of Facebook users in the US over the past couple of weeks. Starting Thursday, hundreds of shows were available to a broader group of Facebook users, a company representative told Business Insider.
Watch represents Facebook's push into the market of professional, episodic video, a move that pits the social network against more established players in the space like Netflix and YouTube.
Facebook sees high-quality, scripted video as important for retaining users, particularly younger ones who are increasingly flocking to its rival Snapchat. Facebook also views shows as a way to rake in advertising dollars traditionally reserved for conventional TV.
Watch includes a large group of publishers, including digital players like BuzzFeed and more traditional ones like A&E. Some of those publishers will make money solely through ad breaks, while others are funded by Facebook. The company has also partnered with specific people, including former YouTube personalities, for super-short shows.
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