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Week In Review: Facebook Watch Has That Discovery Problem We Warned You About; Nielsen Says There Are More TV Households Than Ever

1. Facebook Watch Has That Discovery Problem We Warned You About

When Facebook announced that they’d be launching their new Facebook Watch video service, our excitement was tempered by our fear that they’d do nothing to fix their seriously dysfunctional search function or do anything to make discovery possible.

Sadly, we were correct and then some.

Open up Watch on your desktop browser and you can choose from the following categories:

  • Today’s Spotlight
  • New This Week
  • Popular Now
  • What Friends Are Watching
  • Most Talked About
  • 10 Minutes Or More
  • Suggested For You

Let that sink in a minute: no “Genre” option. No “Category” option. No “Search By Title” option.

We’ll let that last one sink in too and bold it for effect: There is no way to search for a video on Facebook Watch. At all.

Want to know what’s even worse?

If you watch a video, then leave the Watch page and come back … the video disappears! And since there’s no search function, unless you remember the exact name and can track it down again by using Google to find the creator’s Facebook page … you’ll probably never find it.

Zuckerberg … WTF were you thinking?

Why It Matters

It’s a new service. People have no idea what to expect from it. They know that on YouTube, which it oh-so-closely resembles, search is pretty easy. And that if you forgot the name of the last video you watched, it’s easy enough to find it. (If nothing else, unlike Watch, there’s a unique URL for each YouTube video that shows up in your browser’s history.)

We’ve read all about how Watch has video from NASA and National Geographic. Major League Baseball and the NBA.  Only we don’t see/can’t find any of that. Just a bunch of videos from someone named Nas, whose audience is clearly not our middle-aged selves or any of the other billion plus users-over-40 on Facebook. (And you have our birthdays Zuck. You know how old we are and that we live in some boring-ass suburbs.)

It’s almost like Facebook doesn’t want Watch to succeed.

What’s more likely is they’re Blinded By The Algorithm and don’t like the idea of giving users any sort of choice. It’s like they think Watch is a radio station—you get what they’re serving up. Which is great, but at least with radio, you get to pick the genre of the station you want to listen to.

With Watch, the “Popular Now” videos are a whole lot like the “Most Talked About” ones (no surprise there, Fifty TV[R]EV points to someone who can explain the difference) and so we’re left wishing there was a button or a tab somewhere that said “Sports”. Or “News”. Or “Comedy”. Or something else that might help guide us.

What You Need To Do About It

Facebook has all the elements of a killer video service. They know everything about their audiences and can precisely target them, both to drive tune-in and to place advertising. They (allegedly) have content from some great sources and you can even choose to follow and share videos from those sources.

If only you could find them.

The lack of a viable discovery option is not a fatal flaw. Well, at least not yet. But it will be if Facebook doesn’t fix it soon.

So if you’re a network or an advertiser, our advice is to stay away until they do. Or at the very least, tread lightly.

Click to expand 

 

2. Nielsen Says There Are More TV Households Than Ever

While it certainly sounds self-serving, Nielsen’s TV research has a stellar reputation and so there’s no reason to doubt their latest stats.

And what they’re reporting is that there are now more people watching TV than ever before.

(So as not to cause a cardiac arrest epidemic in the vicinity of Palo Alto, let us quickly clarify this, by noting that Nielsen’s numbers take into account people who have cut the cord, but still use a TV set to watch SVOD services like Netflix and HBO, which, last time we checked, still counted as “TV.”  Ditto people without any cable service who rely on good old-fashioned over the air signals.)

Why It Matters

The uptick is pretty substantial: Nielsen estimates there will be 119.6 million TV homes in the U.S. for the upcoming fall season, a 1.2 million increase from last season. (That’s 96.5% of the population, for those of you keeping score at home.)

That number justifies all the millions being spent on original content and all the investment the networks and MVPDs are doing in creating new and better delivery systems.

It also confirms what the networks have been saying for a while now: while linear ratings may be down, the total number of people watching is actually up when you include delayed viewing.

How they plan to monetize that delayed viewing is another story. One that keeps TV[R]EV’s consulting arm in business.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a TV network or MVPD, you’ve got a good reason to celebrate this Labor Day weekend.

If you’re an advertiser, stop shifting your budgets to digital, which does not reach 96.5% of the population, and help the networks figure out how to monetize all that time-shifted viewing.