How Insider Inc. Wants to Set Itself Apart on Facebook Watch

Its news show launches tonight

Insider's news program launches tonight on Facebook Watch and will be live five days a week. Business Insider Today
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From the beginning, Insider Inc., which includes Business Insider and Insider, experimented with video and how best to do it online, keeping in mind that it didn’t want to do “bad CNBC,” said Nicholas Carlson, global editor in chief and chief content officer of Insider Inc.

Now the organization is bringing that same sentiment to its new Facebook Watch news program, Business Insider Today, which launches tonight and will be live five days a week.

“We’re not looking to recreate anything you’d see on a cable box on Business Insider Today,” Carlson said.

Each episode of Business Insider Today will be eight minutes long and will expand on what readers are used to seeing on the website, from business stories to profiles on executives. The program will stream live at 5 p.m. ET on Facebook Watch.

“We really understand what Facebook’s audience is looking for. There’s always a chance we could be wrong, but one of the cool things is that we go into it knowing that we’re going to be wrong about a lot,” Carlson said.

Bad programming can’t be made successful, Insider Inc. CRO Peter Spande said, but there’s opportunity to build off audiences that are already familiar with the brand and content from other series.

“If you’ve got good programming and you’re introducing something new, we now have a platform we can build off of that is really substantial and helps us start at a higher place than we might have been able to start if we were building this from scratch,” Spande said.

Insider Inc. joins a plethora of media companies looking to cash in on Facebook’s tool for publishers after Facebook announced in June that it would create an initiative to fund news shows for Watch. A number of digital publishers have gotten onboard. And it’s already a crowded field.

Mic has Mic Dispatch, a weekly news program, BuzzFeed has BuzzFeed News Presents, Vox Media has Vox Borders. It might be easier to list the digital publishers that don’t have Facebook Watch programming.

Publishers are also hiring big industry names to lead these programs. NowThis, for example, recently hired Nancy Han, former producer at CBS This Morning, to lead its daily Facebook Watch news program.

Some media buyers are intrigued but are waiting to see how it plays out.

“Any time there’s a captive, valuable audience of scale, it’s of interest from a media buying perspective,” said Addie Conner, partner and chief innovation officer at Decoded, in an email. “The details fall more into how ads are integrated and how to optimize creatively. Watch is still in the experimental stage, Facebook and Instagram Stories are a better buy at the moment.”

Likewise, Kevin Vanvalkenburgh, The Tombras Group’s chief connections officer, said he was of the “wait and see” mentality.

“I’m not sold Facebook Watch is ready for primetime yet,” Vanvalkenburgh said. “We’ve certainly vetted out some of the opportunities for our bigger clients. At the end of the day, I don’t think it’s wholly there yet.”

@SaraJerde Sara Jerde is publishing editor at Adweek, where she covers traditional and digital publishers’ business models. She also oversees political coverage ahead of the 2020 election.
Publish date: September 4, 2018 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT