Facebook on Wednesday announced Watch, a new video service with a large social focus which seems like the company's latest attempt to take on YouTube and continue pursuing its growing video ambitions. The solution is meant to serve as a comprehensive video hub for discovering new content that you may be interested in and isn't intended to replace the video component of Facebook's main News Feed, the firm said. Watch will initially only be available to select users in the United States, though its availability will be expanded to more users and territories in the near future, according to Facebook Director of Product Daniel Danker. It's currently unclear how many users will be part of the initial rollout that's likely meant to serve as a beta test of sorts and provide the company with feedback it can use to tweak the platform.
Watch will be available on both mobile and desktop version of Facebook, the company confirmed, adding that the platform will primarily focus on episode-based shows that will span a variety of genres and be both live and pre-produced. Each Watch user will be provided with a personal Watchlist where they can subscribe to particular shows and be notified whenever new episodes come out, whereas the functionality itself will also have some discovery capabilities, facilitating the process of finding new shows that they may be interested in. Apart from personalized recommendations, users will also be able to browse content on Watch based on how popular certain videos are or discover creations that were found to be particularly amusing based on the Reactions people posted to them. Watch will also allow you to browse content that your friends are currently watching, in addition to providing you with videos you may be interested in based on your viewing history and general preferences.
Another social aspect of the service is its ability to present you with a live feed of comments and reactions to any video you're watching, allowing you to become part of the community gathered around any individual piece of content. Apart from third-party creators which will be able to monetize their offerings through Watch, Facebook also confirmed it funded some programming that it believes will resonate well with its diverse online community, including Mike Rowe's series Returning the Favor.