Facebook brings video service Watch to the world

Global roll-out prompted by shift in viewing habits away from traditional television to online platforms

(FILES) A file photo taken on March 23, 2018 shows Facebook logos on a computer screen in Beijing. - The battle over the European Commission's proposed Copyright Directive has been particularly intense, reaching fever pitch as the European Parliament prepares to have a second vote on the issue on September 12, 2018. The fight is over two parts of the planned law. The first is Article 13 -- it would make platforms like Google-owned YouTube legally liable for copyrighted material to prevent content producers being ripped off. The second is Article 11 -- it would create a so-called "neighbouring right" meaning that newspapers, magazines and news agencies including AFP would have to be paid when Google or other websites link to their stories. The tech industry won round one of the fight in July, 2018 when the 750 members of the European Parliament rejected the text in an initial vote. Some MEPs hit out at what French centre-right lawmaker Marc Joulaud called a "lobbying campaign of unprecedented violence orchestrated by GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon)". (Photo by NICOLAS ASFOURI / AFP)
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Facebook said on Wednesday it is rolling out globally its Watch video service, which has already been available in the United States for more than a year.

"We designed the product not just in a mindless consumption but in order to get people engaged," said Fidji Simo, Facebook's vice president for video.

Facebook launched Watch amid a shift in video viewing habits away from traditional television to online platforms including Netflix and Hulu, and with more people watching both professional and user content on services like YouTube.


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Facebook has been ramping up its video offerings with original shows and this week announced new formats including interactive game shows, quizzes and polls. The announcement comes two weeks after Facebook revealed it would broadcast free of charge Spanish top flight division football matches in the Indian subcontinent, and Champions League matches in Latin America.

"Contents that we fund are a very small part of the contents available on Watch," said Ms Simo.

Facebook is hoping instead that videos made by users themselves are what will keep people watching. Ms Simo said Facebook had spent a lot of time developing tools so creators of videos can integrate ads themselves.

"We remain confident that monetisation will help creation," she said.