Facebook is muscling in on YouTube’s turf.
The social networking giant is determined to become a premier destination in online video, and views are booming on the platform — 4 billion a day, up from 1 billion in September 2014.
But to tackle YouTube’s domination head-on, Facebook needs to be able to offer the kind of high-end content made by professional creators that YouTube is already overflowing with. And to do that, it needs to make its platform more attractive to the content creators themselves, to encourage them to upload videos natively. Currently, many just use the social network as an advertising tool to redirect viewers to their YouTube pages.
Facebook took another step towards this goal this week, The Verge reports, with the launch of new publisher tools to give video uploaders more control. These include being able to block embeds on third-party sites, and to be able to designate videos as “secret,” so they can only be found and accessed via the direct URL. It also launched a Video Library feature, “a new place for Page owners to organise and update their videos.” These are — of course — features that have been available on YouTube for years. But now, Facebook is finally starting to catch up.
Of course, even the best publisher tools in the world won’t be able to beat YouTube’s one killer advantage: Cold hard cash. The Google-owned site offers revenue share to uploaders, running adverts alongside their videos, and giving them a share of the proceeds.
Facebook is now experimenting with sharing ad revenue with content creators — but it’s still early days, and only with a very small group of established uploaders, including Fox, NBA, and Funny or Die.
And Facebook’s video ambitions are facing another stumbling block: Persistent copyright infringement on the platform. Some of the largest accounts on the network are frequently sharing content that does not belong to them, with apparently no repercussions. The practice, also known as “freebooting,” has come under increasing scrutiny in the last few months, with critical articles published in Slate, The Verge, and Mashable.
One content creator previously told me if the social network rolls out ad revenue sharing widely without tackling the issue, he will look into filing a class action lawsuit. And George Strompolos, CEO of multi-channel network FullScreen, said in June that “frankly, I’m shocked that a rights holder with deep pockets has not sued yet,” but, he added, with the right tools, Facebook video “can truly eclipse [YouTube] over time.”
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