Facebook is expanding its efforts to conquer the living room with a new app designed to let you watch videos directly from your television — no smartphone required.
The app, which the company said is coming soon, initially will be available on Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TVs, the company said.
“With the app, you can watch videos shared by friends or Pages you follow, top live videos from around the world, and recommended videos based on your interests,” the company said in a blog post. “You can also catch up on videos you’ve saved to watch later, as well as revisit videos you’ve watched, shared or uploaded.”
While Facebook users are already able to flick videos from their mobile devices to a connected television, Chromecast-style, Tuesday's announcement marks another move by the social media giant into the video market. In a November earnings call, chief executive Mark Zuckerberg spoke repeatedly about making Facebook “video-first,” and the company last week hired a former MTV executive to help produce “original content” for the platform.
From this, it's hard not to imagine a future in which consumers will be able to watch Facebook-produced TV shows in addition to Facebook Live videos and videos from friends on the Facebook-built TV app. Like it or not, the future of Facebook is video.
The social network is responding to an industrywide shift. Before the rise of online video, companies such as Facebook were largely excluded from the enormous TV advertising market. But as the definition of television has expanded and become more digital, it's now easier for Facebook and other companies to start selling ads against video that travels over the Internet. By 2020, the online TV ad market is expected to grow to more than $16 billion — up from $9.8 billion in 2016, according to eMarketer.
Companies including Verizon and Disney are realizing that there are billions of dollars to be made from online streaming video, and Facebook, with its 1.86 billion monthly active users, stands to benefit at least as much, if not more.