Facebook tests selling streaming video subscriptions

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TOPSHOT – Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivers the opening keynote introducing new Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram privacy features at the Facebook F8 Conference at McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, California on April 30, 2019. – Got a crush on another Facebook user? The social network will help you connect, as part of a revamp unveiled Tuesday that aims to foster real-world relationships and make the platform a more intimate place for small groups of friends.

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Facebook is trying its hand at selling video subscriptions.

A company spokeswoman said Thursday the company is testing video subscriptions, starting with BritBox (BBC and ITV’s service for British television series), CollegeHumor’s Dropout, MotorTrend OnDemand and Tastemade Plus. The videos can be viewed in Facebook’s Watch ecosystem, its video service. Subscription content will also appear in users’ News Feeds, Facebook said. 

Facebook is expected to take a cut of the subscriptions it generates for video partners, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday. Facebook said prices will align with the market prices for each partner; $4.99 for Dropout, $6.99 for BritBox, $2.99 for TasteMade Plus and $4.99 for MotorTrend on Demand. 

“We’re excited to bring more of people’s favorite shows and videos to Facebook, where subscribers can enjoy the content together with other fans,” a spokeswoman said in an emailed statement. “We’ll be listening to feedback from our community.”

The new subscriptions will deign to combine the social aspects of Facebook’s platform with a “traditional SVOD experience.” Users will be able to start or join “Watch Parties” to chat with other fans about a certain episode. Users will see prompts to sign up for free trials in clips or trailers on Watch, posts on Facebook Pages or on the News Feed, and will be able to complete transactions within the Facebook app. 

The test will run for users in the U.S. and will begin in the next few weeks.

But Facebook is noticeably missing the most popular streaming services like HBO, Hulu and Netflix that are offered by other streaming platforms run by Apple, Roku and Amazon.

Facebook said in June that Watch had reached more than 720 million visitors monthly, with 140 million spending at least one minute on the service per day. In comparison, Google-owned YouTube says more than 1.9 billion logged-in users watch video there every month.

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