Facebook takes on YouTube with video service

Buy, buy, baby: Facebook has bought over 50 companies in order to acquire their staff or product.

The social network has begun to roll out Watch, its new video tab. The product looks set to shake up the online streaming industry. Is Facebook becoming dangerously big?

Mark Zuckerberg likes video. Facebook’s boss predicts that within a few years, it will account for most of the content you see on his social network. Yesterday that future just got a lot closer.

Facebook has started rolling out its new video service, Watch. Users will initially get access to a few dozen series from partner networks. Eventually the company intends to allow anyone to upload videos.

Each show will have a comment section and content will be displayed in categories like “What friends are watching.” The idea is to replace the mishmash of videos in your news feed with something more organised. Basically, to be more like YouTube.

This is classic Facebook. The tech giant keeps a close watch on industry trends and innovations. When it spots a successful company, it sometimes uses its massive wealth to buy it.

In other cases, Facebook simply copies the company. After its $3 billion offer to buy Snapchat was turned down, it started integrating the best bits of Snapchat into its own products. Subsequently Snapchat’s growth slowed. YouTube has reasons to be scared of Watch.

Facebook boasts almost two billion users and took $28 billion in revenues last year. If it copies your product, chances are its version will be more popular and sophisticated than yours. Is it just too powerful?

Watch out

“Yes,” say some. The more users Facebook attracts, the more money and data it amasses, the more effective its products become. Start-ups cannot compete, and the whole industry suffers. We should start regulating the company.

“You’re exaggerating,” reply others. The fact that Facebook keeps having to buy or copy rivals shows that start-ups are thriving. If anything, by matching the brightest ideas in tech with its huge resources, it ensures that we get the best products possible.

You Decide

  1. Has this article changed your mind about using Facebook (or Instagram or WhatsApp)?

Activities

  1. In groups, record a one-minute video in which you explain whether you think Watch will work, and why.

Some People Say...

“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

What do you think?

Q & A

What do we know?
Launch content includes an interactive show featuring a motivational speaker and a cooking programme involving kids. Facebook paid for some of these shows, but it plans to stop doing so eventually.
What do we not know?
Whether Watch will take off. This depends on how it deals with certain problems. Will it crack down on inappropriate videos? Will its content beat YouTube’s?

Word Watch

New video service
Technically, Watch is a revamp of Facebook’s existing video tab.
Turned down
Snapchat boss Evan Spiegel was mocked for turning down the offer, made in 2013. But he had the last laugh: in March this year, his company was valued at $28 billion.
Best bits
For instance, Facebook cloned Snapchat’s Stories feature, which allows users to create temporary photo and video montages.
YouTube
YouTube is owned by Google.
Almost two billion users
If Facebook’s community were a country, it would be the most populous in the world.

PDF Download

Please click on "Print view" at the top of the page to see a print friendly version of the article.