« Back to Posts


Week In Review: Research Confirms Facebook Watch Is Still Facebook What?, Cheddar TV Makes Some Linear Moves.

1. Research Confirms Facebook Watch Is Still Facebook What?

It’s something of a joke in the analyst community that most Facebook users think Facebook Watch is something you wear on your wrist, rather than a new video service. But new research from TDG suggests the joke isn’t all that far off the mark: 50% of all adult Facebook users have never even heard of Watch, while a further 24% have heard of it but never actually watched it. (That they know of, anyway. Even TV[R]EV staffers are often unsure whether a video falls under the “Watch” umbrella or the “other video that’s been posted to Facebook by media companies” umbrella.)

Why It Matters

Facebook has made video, Watch in particular its number one priority (other than going a week without a negative news story, anyway), and everyone has been baffled at how haphazardly (how’s that for a euphemism) they’ve gone about it. From staffing the project with people who had zero actual TV experience to their curious failure to make any sort of announcement about Watch, Facebook seems to be stumbling from one mishap to the next.

The failure to promote Watch is the most curious, given that at some point earlier this year, everyone seemed to find a “play” button as one of the four buttons on the bottom of their app, with zero explanation of what it was (sort of like Marketplace, another tab most people seem to ignore.) Some of our friends are reporting that their play button has now disappeared, but nonetheless, it seems odd that Facebook wouldn’t just use an app update to announce Watch, introduce some of the more high profile programming, and walk people through the process of setting up a playlist.

Maybe Facebook thinks the project is still in beta, maybe they figure they’ve got ample time and money to get it right, maybe they have no idea, but regardless, it’s not helping the overall look of the company at a time when they continually seem to be in “managing the latest PR disaster” mode.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a network, MVPD or streaming service like Netflix, try not to gloat, but the fact that Facebook, which, on paper at least, could conceivably launch a valid offensive against your service, seems to be doing anything but, is very good news for you.

If you’re an advertiser … while TDG’s report did indicate that 21% of users watch Watch monthly and 6% watch it daily, your money is better spent elsewhere on Facebook: no matter how much Facebook tweaks their algorithm, dark posts in the news feed are going to get you a lot more bang for your buck than midroll ads on a platform very few people are watching.

Knowingly, anyway.

2. Cheddar TV Makes Some Linear Moves

The past few weeks saw a trio of announcements from millennial-focused business news startup Cheddar TV, all of them around integration into linear TV platforms.

Cheddar (which, full disclosure, has been prescient enough to feature TV[R]EV’s Alan Wolk on a regular basis) will now be available as a linear channel for cable provider WOW!s 400,000 subscriber, as a VOD channel accessible via X1’s voice-controlled remote for Comcast’s 25,000,000 subscribers and as a linear channel for the over 800 smaller MVPDs under the NCTC umbrella.

Why It Matters

A slot on major cable providers makes Cheddar, which started life as a web-only channel, far more “real” to the people and companies it covers and positions them to ultimately post a challenge to MSNBC, Bloomberg and other mainstream business news services.

Cenk Uygur, of The Young Turks (TYT), a company with a similar profile to Cheddar’s, frequently tells of how many government agencies wouldn’t agree to meet with TYT’s reporters upon finding out that TYT was just a YouTube-based service, even when Uygur explained that they had millions of subscribers. He found, however, that when he mentioned they had a show on Sirius FM, those same doors suddenly opened, because now they were part of the “real media”, even though their Sirius show had, at best, 10,000 subs.

We suspect that Cheddar will be a beneficiary of the same prejudices, from both sources and from advertisers.

The Cheddar deals are also notable because they show how media companies that get their start online can profit from joining forces with the existing TV ecosystem, both to increase credibility and to increase reach. Cheddar has joined forces with most of the existing vMVPDs as well as with Roku and Amazon Prime. By giving viewers and advertisers a wide range of places to find their service, Cheddar is ensuring that they don’t wind up being just another niche product, one of the unfortunate victims of the “TV is dying” myth.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re an MVPD or other content distributor and you don’t have a deal with Cheddar and companies like it, then you should investigate that possibility ASAP. There’s no downside and you’ll endear yourself to younger viewers to boot.

If you’re an advertiser and you want to reach an engaged and intelligent audience that skews younger, Cheddar is the real deal and their reduced ad load means people will remember your spot.

And if you’re looking for insightful commentary about the television industry, tune into Cheddar. We hear they know a guy ….