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What we learned from the guy who watched 24 hours of Facebook's new video platform

Facebook has launched a new channel for original video content.
Facebook has launched a new channel for original video content.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

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Have you noticed that new tab on Facebook? It’s called Facebook Watch, the social media giant’s new platform for original video content.

You can find Facebook Watch just below the Messenger tab on the left side of your desktop main page, or on the new play button icon at the bottom of the screen of your Facebook mobile app.

It’s a space to check out original content that includes news, sports highlights and even scripted series.

Henry Goldman is the former head of video at Buzzfeed News. He consumed 24 hours of videos on Facebook Watch — over about a week — to find out how it works and what the future of video on Facebook could look like. He wrote about the experiment in a Medium blog post.

When Goldman spoke with The Frame's John Horn, they walked through the new platform on John's laptop. Here are three things we learned about Facebook Watch:

1) "Humans of New York," a series that was based on the popular blog, Facebook and Instagram accounts, is an example of video content that works well on Facebook Watch.

GOLDMAN: That's what's special about that brand. It's highly curated to create intimate, voyeuristic looks at real people that you wouldn't necessarily get to see. The way they weave it together into these 20-minute videos is really artful and beautiful. It has performed quite well on Facebook's platform and I think people are connecting with it. It's not like any other piece of media you see on Facebook, certainly, but you can't imagine that, really, anywhere else.

2) Facebook Watch's competition is a combination of YouTube, Amazon, Netflix and Snapchat. But mostly it's viewers' attention.

GOLDMAN: With most apps, attention is what they want. They are competing with sleep. They're competing with school. They're competing with work. They want you to be in their space as much and they are doing something that is slightly different than all of those [sites].

3) Audio is essential to the success of Facebook Watch's video shows. See: podcasts.

GOLDMAN: I do think [users] putting in their earbuds when they open up Facebook [is important]. That "Humans of New York" video is really wonderful, but I think it only works if you're paying attention to it and listening. I don't think it works if you have other stuff going on and it's in the background tabs, because you're not getting to look at these beautifully shot interviews. And I don't think it works if you're just looking at the captions.

HORN: I think what you're almost describing, and what Facebook Watch is — when it works — is video podcasts. You are looking at a good aggregation of content that you have to consume in a certain way, and that is by watching your phone or your laptop, listening to the story behind it.

GOLDMAN: Yeah. And when you listen to a podcast, you say, Oh, I'm going to subscribe to this. I want more. I want to see the new things that come up. I know what I'm going to get from this and I enjoy it and I'm going to grow with it.

To hear John Horn's full interview with Henry Goldman, click on the player above. For more content like this, subscribe to The Frame podcast on iTunes or wherever you get your podcasts.

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