Facebook’s free ad-supported on-demand video service, Watch, faces an uphill struggle when it comes to attracting viewers. According to a survey by The Diffusion Group (TDG), half of adult Facebook users had never even heard of the Watch service. Another 24% said they had heard of it, but never used it.
According to the responses of 1,632 adults who do use the social network, just 21% actually used Watch to view shows monthly. 14% viewed shows weekly and 6% daily.
However, it’s not all been bad news. Larger networks such as ABC’s TV Station Group successfully debuted More in Common in July 2018 which attracted 5 million views so far. The show also has 50,000 subscribers on Watch.
“Despite the slow build of Watch users, it would be remiss to underestimate Facebook’s long-term potential as a large-scale video provider,” explained Michael Greeson, President of TDG. “As we first noted in 2016, prominent social platforms like Facebook are looking for ways to exploit their massive scale to sell new video services to their users, much as Amazon has done with Prime. Watch is a small first step in that direction, as is the $1 billion Facebook set aside in 2018 to fund original programming to populate the service.”
Greeson added that Facebook simply has the cash to be able to trial different formats, test and tweak them for years until it needs to see a return.
“Facebook, Google, Apple, and Amazon have such deep pockets and vast business empires that they can spin up a service in short order and lose money on it for years if it serves a higher purpose, like keeping Facebook users in the branded ecosystem for longer. For large tech companies, media services are commonly a means to a larger end, not ends in themselves,” he added.
Facebook has previously managed to effectively promote other services such as its Messenger and Instagram. Judging by these past successes, Watch may just take a little time to take off.