Facebook plans to start selling video subscriptions within the next few weeks.
The information on this comes from reports that credit company spokespeople for the confirmation.
According to the details, this will be a limited test at first. That is, limited in the number of video subscription options, and also the Facebook users who can subscribe.
For example, the test is understood to be limited to Facebook users based the U.S although it remains unclear if that means all U.S. users or just a subset. In either case, Facebook will only be offering subscriptions to BritBox, CollegeHumor, MotorTrend and Tastemade to begin with.
What Facebook is really doing here is attempting to position itself as a video subscription marketplace. Facebook is not offering any of these subscriptions at a cheaper rate than what they can be purchased at elsewhere. Instead, it will be just another access point to the subscriptions.
The benefit of this approach to the subscription services is the subscriber-management portion of the relationship becomes Facebook's responsibility – Facebook takes care of the money collection sides of things.
This approach is currently being used by many companies with Amazon and Roku acting as two prime and successful examples. Like those other companies, and although not confirmed, it stands to reason Facebook will earn a commission on each video subscription it sells.
This is not necessarily a surprising move by the company as rumors had been circulating that Facebook intended to become more involved in subscriptions. After all, it appears to be a very en vogue move for companies at the moment.
There may also be another, more personal motive as to why Facebook is joining the subscription bandwagon.
Facebook is understood to be working on a follow-up Portal device. The company launched its Portal line last year as smart displays that come with an additional emphasis on video chatting. The newer device is expected to take things to the next level as it connects to the TV. It's a TV streaming device.
What sets it apart from the rest of the set-top box and streaming device market is that as it is also a Portal device, it will come with the same emphasis on video calling. Essentially, this will be a streaming device that adds a camera to the TV.
While that in itself will raise some concerns over privacy, and especially in the case of Facebook, reports have circulated that the company had recently approached major streaming services including HBO and Netflix. The approaching was in the hope the big-name brands would commit to including their subscription services on Facebook's new device when it launches in the fall.
At the moment, there appears to be a fairly wide gulf between the size of the streaming services that Facebook reportedly reached out to and those included in this marketplace test, but that would make sense.
Facebook likely wants to test its handling of video subscription selling long before it begins to handle significantly larger subscriber bases, and especially on new hardware it is trying to sell to consumers.