Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg is challenging the content market. Since end of August, Facebook’s new Watch tab is available for US users as the feature begins its proper roll-out. The new video portal, Facebook’s answer to YouTube, will curate exclusive video content from partners as well as some funded by the company itself.

Facebook’s shows range from live event coverage to reality TV to scripted series. However, what’s clearly absent is the type of longer-form scripted dramas and comedies that OTT platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime offer. Facebook, by contrast, is looking to replicate the sort of viral content that’s already widely shared by its users, just in longer, episodic form. Therefore, there are lots of mini-documentaries, for example Billboard’s How It Went Down and National Geographic’s We’re Wired This Way, reality shows, such as A&E’s Bae or Bail in which couples face their fears and see who runs, and sports coverage, for example NBA’s WNBA All-Access. More on that here.

If you too are now interested in producing a show for Facebook, here are the requirements.

To promote serialised content, Facebook offers a ‘Latest Episodes’ tab, so that users can follow new episodes of their favourite shows. Furthermore, Watch features personalised recommendations of live and recorded shows, plus categories such as ‘Most Talked About’, ‘What’s Making People Laugh’ and ‘Shows Your Friends Are Watching’. Another new feature that links shows to Groups lets fans connect with each other as well as with creators. This shows that once again the community aspect is for Facebook at the core.

By hosting original programming, Facebook could boost ad revenue and give people a reason to frequently return to the News Feed for content they can’t get anywhere else. Facebook’s competitors, like YouTube and Snapchat, have already experimented with creating original video content. YouTube Red funds several original series, giving bigger production budgets to some of its biggest stars. Snapchat has tried making its own shows in-house, but now focuses on signing deals with partners like TV studios to get fresh, vertical video content into its Discover section. Now Facebook is in the business of funding original content too, initially through direct payments, though it seeks to switch entirely to a revenue-share model in the future to make its original programming effort sustainable.

Even though Facebook is currently focusing on Watch, another Facebook-owned platform is evolving as a content platform. Instagram is becoming more than a haven for the image-obsessed. A new drama series in Finland, for example, is shot solely with a phone and broadcasted live on Instagram stories. Karma (top photo) was commissioned by YLE, the Finnish National Broadcasting Company, and produced by Ryöväri.

It is a scripted show that follows three girlfriends who like to gossip until things get out of hand. The Instagram thriller is shot primarily in selfie-style and plays out live over a period of three days. The show is performed almost as an act of theatre, with the actors rehearsing beforehand and performing only once live.

Have a look here >> https://www.instagram.com/karmadraama/

The series was commissioned in an attempt to reach younger audiences, while creating an intimate and impressive drama on the cheap, and the show did definitely appeal to its young target audience.

To expand the reach and create buzz around the show, the first day of the drama series included a party with about 50 Instagram Influencers. The actresses and producers reacted also in real-time to comments by fans, and another YouTuber who had seen the show live on Instagram, even made a cameo the following day.

This shows once again that social media platforms are allowing affordable and engaging scripted content by providing new storytelling opportunities. And Karma will be back soon for Season 2. Stay tuned!

About Author

Sandra Lehner is a TV Futurist and the MD of Suncatcher Social, based in Lisbon. She is a frequent contributor to MIPBlog, and speaks regularly at MIPCOM. Newsletter: https://tvfuturist.substack.com/ Website: https://suncatchersocial.com/ LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sandralehner/

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