Facebook Is Getting Serious About Original Programming With “Facebook Live”

Posted: May 11, 2013 in Facebook, GT, Social, Technology
Tags: ,

“House Of Cards” proved that great, exclusive content
can create loyal customers. While Facebook isn’t
about to produce TV shows, it tells me that it plans to
ramp up production of its Facebook Live original
programming starting with a talk with Star Trek
celebrities today at 5:15 p.m. PST. Comedian Andy Samberg will interview film director JJ Abrams and
classic cast member and social media maven George
Takei. Randi Zuckerberg, CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s sister,
started Facebook Live in 2010. A website and
Facebook app powered by Livestream, Facebook Live
streams talks and offers an archive of past video
clips. Users can discuss the videos in real time with
other users and ask questions. Facebook Live moderators then pick from submitted questions,
name-check the people who ask them, and pose
them to the celebrities. It featured Randi’s interviews with celebrities, as well
as instructional talks on Facebook’s products and
marketing tools. Later it would host Facebook’s
election coverage, including Barack Obama’s town
hall talk at Facebook headquarters in 2011. Over the
years, Oprah Winfrey, Vin Diesel, Madonna, astronaut Ron Garan, and Israeli President Shimon Peres all
came on the air. For the last six months, though, Facebook Live has
been pretty quiet. Since Bravo’s Andy Cohen
interviewed Rihanna in November, the only video it’s
added was from the Facebook Home launch event.
While fascinating to tech insiders, there wasn’t much
wide appeal. But now, the social network is putting Facebook Live
back in gear. A Facebook spokesperson for the
project tells me “Facebook Live is something we’ll be
utilizing more.” While more shoots haven’t been lined
up, they should come at a brisker pace. Why invest in original programming? “The purpose
of Facebook Live is to give fans an opportunity to
interact with public figures and give the public figures
a global platform to present how they are
using Facebook [or are engaged in conversations
happening on Facebook] in an authentic way,” is the rather dry answer I got from the spokesperson. But digging a bit deeper, Facebook Live
accomplishes several strategic goals for the team at
1 Hacker Way. First, it can turn fans of the stars that
Live brings on air into more frequent Facebook users.
On the flip side, it can turn celebrities into more hard-
core Facebook content creators. Facebook wants to be the place where people follow their favorite public
figures, but it needs them posting frequently. Most importantly, though, it demonstrates Facebook’s
potential as a live events discussion platform.
Becoming the second screen to important global
events can generate tons of time-on-site and
engagement. This has historically been Twitter’s
domain thanks to its unfiltered, real-time feed, but Facebook wants a piece of the pie. If you have a great time chatting with other Star Trek
fans today, maybe you’ll choose Facebook to discuss
the next Star Trek TV show premiere rather than on
its 140-character competitor. With the potential to
promote them to a billion people, Facebook shouldn’t
have much trouble getting the world’s VIPs into the revamped Facebook Live studio.

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