Facebook seems to be working on an app for TV platforms like Android TV, Apple TV, and set-top boxes, according to anonymous inside sources. The social media juggernaut is reportedly in the process of getting their hands on some long-form programming to put on the app, allowing it to compete with TV channels and other video services, though the insiders declined to name which media companies Facebook was in talks with at this time. The plan is to obtain some top-tier original and exclusive programming, and to sell mid-roll ads on that programming, since Facebook usually avoids YouTube-style pre-roll ads. For now, there is no information on exactly how the app will look and function, when it will drop, or what platforms will be getting it.
Facebook has been putting more emphasis on video content and thus the more valuable video ads that open up as a result. For example, video content has made its way into the Instagram photo sharing platform, and Facebook has made changes to their News Feed algorithms to put an emphasis on videos over 90 seconds long, where they have more wiggle room to run advertisements. Facebook’s emphasis on video is nothing new, but it has been reaching a fever pitch since the middle of last year, and video advertising has quite predictably followed right behind.
In the United States alone, the TV advertising space is worth about $70 billion. Given the fact that their flagship News Feed product is reportedly approaching an advertising plateau, rather than cutting into the user experience to put in more ads, Facebook seems to have decided that they will simply take ads elsewhere. Ads have begun showing up in places like Messenger, and users have been finding video ads in Facebook’s main page and Instagram, so going for a slice of the massive TV advertising pie is not much of a logical stretch. Surveys report that the average American watches four hours of television each day, while Facebook only gets around fifty minutes of the average user’s time – the proposition for increased screen time and new ad and content formats is thus that much more appealing.