Facebook is putting a stop to its initiative to sponsor certain content creators making News Feed videos, Digiday reported earlier this week, citing people familiar with the matter, as well as those who were previously financed by the social media giant through the program that's now coming to an end. The Menlo Park, California-based company entered into contractual agreements with individual publishers over financing their News Feed videos and has now started notifying them that their contracts won't be renewed, insiders reveal, adding that the majority of such contracts are ending this year, with a small number of them possibly running until early 2018.
The expiring deals had publishers agree to create a certain volume of video content for Facebook's News Feed on a monthly basis, with the contract mandating the procurement of a minimum number of minutes over such periods. The agreements otherwise varied depending on the publisher and have encompassed both live broadcasts and on-demand clips which had to feature at least 90 seconds of original content so as to be eligible for mid-roll advertisements. Approximately 300 publishers are presently involved in the program which started last year as part of the company's broader video push. The move is understood to be aimed at prompting publishers to enroll in Facebook's traditional advertising program instead of receiving a fixed fee for their programming on a monthly basis.
It's currently unclear whether Facebook made the decision to shut down the initiative because it's already confident in the profitability of videos supported by mid-roll ads or if it estimated the program to be too costly. A combination of both may also be the case as the firm is understood to have committed tens of millions of dollars to content creators as part of the subsidy plan. Publications like The New York Times and BuzzFeed received at least $3 million from Facebook to create News Feed video content for the platform in 2016, according to previous reports, whereas influencers and celebrities such as Gordon Ramsay, Michael Phelps, and Kevin Hart are all said to have been paid to broadcast on Facebook Live.
The majority of the company's video budget is now being redirected to the recently launched Watch platform, with the short-term plan being to maintain the same level of investment but manage it in a more concentrated manner, i.e. produce a smaller number of higher-quality content. Sources involved in the subsidy program claim none of Facebook's ideas panned out and most of the previously supported publishers will now be moving away from the social media platform's video service, having failed to generate significant revenue by additionally engaging audiences.