Facebook launched Watch last year in the US as a platform for episodic TV content, and now it's going international. The social media company announced that the VOD service will be "available everywhere" as of now, giving creators around the world an alternative to YouTube. "We are supporting publishers and creators globally in two critical areas: helping them to make money from their videos on Facebook and better understand how their content is performing," said Facebook in a statement.
Shows in the US that have taken off include Red Table Talk with Jada Pinkett Smith (2.9 million followers) and beauty industry mogul Huda Kattan's Huda Boss, along with PGA Tour and Major League Baseball sports coverage. Facebook said that up to 50 million people tune in to Watch for at least a minute per month, though you should take its video numbers with a grain of salt. Upcoming shows will feature Cristiano Ronaldo and Catherine Zeta Jones.
Facebook said Watch creators in four new countries (the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand) will be able to profit off their shows via the "Ad Breaks" service. It will roll out to another 21 countries next month, including France, Germany, Spain, Argentina and Thailand. Facebook also lowered the threshold to monetize a channel: You now need just 10,000 followers or to generate more than 30,000 one minute views per month. It needs to be said again, however, that Facebook doesn't have a great reputation for paying publishers and creators well.
Since Watch launched, Facebook has made it more socially inclined by helping users see which shows their friends have liked or shared. It also plans to unveil polls, quizzes and other interactive features for upcoming game shows like Outside Your Bubble later this year.
Facebook said it will spend up to $2 billion on new content for Watch, a drop in the hat compared to Netflix or YouTube, but still a significant sum. It might want to spend some of that on marketing the service, as most Americans have never heard of Watch, let alone used it, as Variety notes.