Watch Out, YouTube: Facebook Is Finally Building A Video Hub
Pushing into territory dominated by Google’s video platform, Facebook is testing a dedicated spot for people looking to watch video on the social network.
Facebook video is finally getting a home.
Up to now, the social network has been content to let its users bump into video on the News Feed — serendipitously and targeted via algorithm — a strategy that has paid off exceedingly well, with people watching more four billion videos a day on Facebook. But YouTube remains the place to go for people actively looking for video to watch, and therefore, the Google property still remains the world’s top platform for video marketing.
Today, Facebook announced a move that could start shrinking the gap. It is testing a dedicated hub for people looking to watch video on Facebook that will help “people discover, watch and share videos on Facebook that are relevant to them.” The test, rolling out first for a small number of people, will give people access to the video section via an icon at the bottom of the iPhone app or from the “Favorites” section on the left-hand side of the News Feed on the Web.
Facebook will populate the section with videos that people have saved for later, videos from friends, Pages they follow and video from other publishers. And to make it more likely that people will stick around and watch move video, Facebook is also testing a few other enhancements.
One of those, “suggested videos,” gives people a stream of other video to watch after clicking on one from the News Feed. It started testing in the summer and gives video publishers a cut of ads appearing within the stream. Facebook said today that it is pleased with initial results and has rolled out the feature globally to most iPhone users. It has also started testing it on the Web and will do that also on Android in the coming months.
Other tests — a pop-out video player to allow people to watch a video while continuing to scroll through their feed and a “save for later” button on videos so people can bookmark content they want to come back to — also align with the strategy to woo people looking to Facebook as a source for video entertainment.
Facebook made a demo video of the dedicated hub:
Postscript (Dec. 16, 2015): Facebook appears to be giving more people access to the web version of the suggested video test. As first reported this week by Social Times, people are noticing a “Click for more” link on videos appearing in their desktop News Feeds.
Clicking on the link opens a video player with a black background with the featured item displayed larger. Other suggested videos are queued up at the bottom of the screen. The videos in the queue continue to play as long as you stay on the page.