Facebook Finally Launching Long-Rumored “Facebook Watch” TV-Like Feature

Image courtesy of Facebook

“TV” doesn’t mean what it used to. We’re as likely to watch a premium drama from Netflix or Amazon as from any traditional broadcast or cable channel, and we can watch it on a laptop, phone, or tablet as easily as we can watch it from the big screen in our living rooms. And so it’s unsurprising that Facebook — the all-encompassing worldwide digital platform that once was merely a social network — is finally ready to launch its own programming channel, Facebook Watch.

The news is no surprise; we heard back in June that Facebook was planning to commission its own original content soon, and the August timing for this launch had been rumored in July. Still, after much hullaballoo it’s finally here. So what can you expect?

What is it?

“Watch” is basically just the latest tab to show up on the already-crowded Facebook app, appearing on the little bar between the icon that takes you to your timeline and the one that leads you to the Marketplace. It replaces the “Video” icon that’s already there.

It is of course personalized, Facebook says, algorithmically optimized for you personally just like everything else on Facebook is supposed to be.

To that end, it will contain sections like, “Most talked about,” for videos lots of people are commenting on, or “What’s making people laugh,” for content that generates a “haha” reaction. And of course, there will be a section for what your friends, personally, are watching, because what is Facebook without oversharing?

What can I watch on it?

While Facebook is still expected eventually to make a play for original content in the style of an Amazon or Netflix, it’s still not there yet.

For now, Watch is still “a platform for all creators and publishers to find an audience,” as Facebook would have it, which means free content generated by others and hosted on Facebook. The company lists some examples of existing Facebook-based shows and live events that “connect with fans” or “engage fans and community.”

Facebook will also be live-streaming one Major Leage Baseball game per week, the company adds, and is planning to “seed the ecosystem” — i.e., guarantee there’s something to watch on Watch from the start — with a few shows they’ve paid for, including one hosted by Mike Rowe (of Dirty Jobs fame).

When do I get it?

As with pretty much every new Facebook feature, they’re starting with “a limited group of people” and will roll it out to everyone “soon.” You may have Watch today, or you may be the last person you know to finally start seeing it months from now.