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Facebook unveils ‘Watch’ video tab

iStock/Thinkstock
iStock/Thinkstock

(NEW YORK) — Facebook users will soon see a new “Watch” tab that will offer a range of shows, some of which have been funded by the social network.

Watch will be personalized so that users can discover new shows, based on what their friends are watching.

Viewers will also be able to see comments and connect with friends and dedicated groups for shows.

“Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive,” said the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post. “It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.”

Video has been available on Facebook for some time, but until now, it has mostly been dominated by amateur clips or short segments from news organizations.

The world’s largest social network added a “Video” tab last year, and has hinted for some time that it might make the move to producing original content.

Watch could open up new revenue potential for both Facebook and program makers, while users can expect to see targeted advertising before and during the shows.

Facebook said it hopes the selection of shows will address both niche and broad interests.

If the choice at launch is anything to go by, its focus will be factual entertainment such as cooking, fitness and travel-themed programs that play well on a smartphone screen, rather than flagship dramas such as House of Cards or Game of Thrones, which are both more expensive to produce and better suited for playback on TVs.

Facebook is entering an increasingly complex and crowded market and will face competition from traditional TV networks as well as other online services such as YouTube and Netflix.

Facebook already has content lined up, including Major League Baseball, women’s basketball, parenting shows and a safari show from National Geographic.

Watch will have a limited release in the US before it is rolled out more broadly.

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