Facebook Bets Big on ‘Live’ Content With $50M for Celebs, Media Biz

Facebook may have more than a billion eyeballs on it, but CEO Mark Zuckerberg wants to keep them there. That’s why his social media empire invested $50 million in Facebook Live content, announcing that the likes of Kevin Hart, Gordon Ramsay, Deepak Chopra and NFL quarterback Russell Wilson will appear in streaming videos.

“Facebook Inc. has inked contracts with nearly 140 media companies and celebrities to create videos for its nascent live-streaming service,” reads a Wall Street Journal article updated on Wednesday, “as the social network positions itself to cash in on a lucrative advertising market it has yet to tap — and keep its 1.65 billion monthly users engaged. The company has agreed to make payments to video creators totaling more than $50 million, according to a document reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.”

WSJ’s Steven Perlberg and Deepa Seetharaman write that the $50 million comes before Facebook solidifies a sustainable way to compensate content creators like media companies CNN, the New York Times, Vox Media, Tastemade, Mashable and the Huffington Post. Sharing ad revenue is one possibility, they say.

At least one critic tells Target Marketing that publishers and, by extension, marketers who advertise with them, should take a wait-and-see approach to placing content on Facebook.

John Strabley, VP and strategy director at Quaero, emailed Target Marketing these thoughts about publishers partnering with Facebook on content: Facebook-referred site visitors are “low-quality,” single-digit percentages of site traffic and “snackable” content seekers. So they represent an opportunity cost, he says. While partnering with Facebook on articles may extend reach, it will also cannibalize revenue, Strabley writes.

“Eliciting a clickthrough on Facebook is hard enough,” he says, “so how is giving them the full article on Facebook going to solve that problem? Part of the challenge with driving scale in traffic from Facebook is that the platform itself is engaging. Users are more interested in catching up on the latest from friends and celebrities they follow that anything else seems to be an intrusion and a disruption.”

Celebrities, Strabley says.

Zuckerberg may have been listening. He displayed the Facebook Live product for users on June 14 with whom? Comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

The Facebook CEO’s first townhall Q&A already had nearly 10 million views by early afternoon on Wednesday.

“[Zuckerberg] answered questions from around the world about artificial intelligence, virtual reality, live video, entrepreneurship and more,” reads Facebook’s announcement. “Comedian Jerry Seinfeld dropped by to ask Mark a few questions of his own.”

Zuckerberg’s fans got a notification when his video went live, as is the case for all followers. [Author’s note: For instance, I’ll get a notification when my friends use Facebook Live.]

In Facebook’s Q1 earnings call in April, (opens as a PDF) Zuckerberg says the next five years will be the “golden age of online video.” He says video is actually helping consumers shift screens to mobile devices.

“There are billions and billions of videos that are viewed every day on Facebook,” Zuckerberg says. “Live is a very small part of it. The reason why we give this proportion of attention to it is because we’re trying to help push forward new formats that are not just about consuming content but are really about interacting. So Live, 360 Video, and there will be others in the future. I do think multiple products and companies can succeed in building these things. I also think that there are go going to be a lot more interactive forms of video than just Live and 360 like we’re talking about now. And I think this extends not just to video but for all of the different types of media and audiences that we’re serving.”

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.
Publish date: June 23, 2016 https://dev.adweek.com/performance-marketing/facebook-bets-big-live-content-50m-celebs-media-biz/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT