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Facebook Live Gives Way to Facebook Originals

The other shoe has dropped on the publishers Facebook paid (more than $50 million in 2016) to leverage Facebook Live, Recode’s Kurt Wagner reports. According to Wagner:

Now numerous publishers tell Recode that Facebook is de-emphasizing live video when it talks to them. And none of the publishers we’ve spoken with expect Facebook to renew the paid livestreaming deals it signed last spring to get live video off the ground.

Considering how Facebook is maturing within the construct of today’s rapidly evolving video publisher dynamics (Facebook is a media network, after all) — from an influx in premium video and increasing over-the-top (OTT) content to the proliferation of smart TVs and TV Everywhere expansion — this was an inevitable evolution of Facebook’s video strategy to respond to the increasing content-to-noise ratio facing consumers with seemingly limitless video choices. Wagner adds:

Instead, Facebook is pushing publishers to create longer, premium video content as part of a larger effort led by Facebook exec Ricky Van Veen. The hope is to get more high-quality video onto the platform and into your News Feed — the kind of stuff, presumably, you might find on Netflix.

Now, here are three takeaways:

  1. Goodbye, ‘Professionally’ Produced Live Video — While Facebook is still spending millions on its Facebook Live ad campaign, expect more ‘amateur’ produced live video to takeover in 2017 as the professional videos shift toward original content.
  2. Facebook Originals — Facebook is making its play toward underwriting original content. Expect to see TV studios and movie houses getting into serious talks with Facebook about original Facebook-first series.
  3. Battle for the Living Room — With a newfound focus on premium video, Facebook is now sending early signals to HBO, Showtime, Hulu and Netflix that the TV device is in their sights.

It will be interesting to see how Facebook’s 2016 Live partners (Buzzfeed, CNN, NYT and many more) will leverage Facebook Live moving forward. They’ve invested a lot of resources into the platform, and it should be no surprise if they continue to activate live audiences on Facebook. In fact, Wagner spoke with publishers about this:

Some publishers had teams of workers creating live video; the New York Times assigned seven employees to its Facebook Live efforts. Publishers we’ve talked with say they will continue to make live videos for Facebook and other platforms, like Twitter and YouTube, but they’ll scale back their efforts.

While it’s unclear exactly how publishers will move forward with leveraging Facebook Live, things continue to come into focus for Facebook. And wherever Facebook goes from here, the writing is on the table: Facebook Originals is on its way, and the premium video battle for consumer attention just got a lot more interesting.