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08/11/2017 | 11:41 am

Aug. 11--FACEBOOK is going head to head with TV channels and online rivals YouTube, Amazon and Netflix by launching a video channel.

Users of the social media site will soon be offered a range of shows, from comedy and reality TV to live sport as the Silicon Valley titan bids to expand its reach as a global media company.

Facebook is expected to develop its own TV programmes and could even bid for major sporting events.

This would pose a major threat to traditional TV stations which have monopolised the showing of these events, but could find themselves easily outbid by the financial might of Facebook.

It recently reported revenues of £7bn for three months, a 45pc increase since it first launched its mobile video service.

In a move which was widely viewed as a cynical bid to sink the shares of rival Snapchat, Facebook timed its announcement of the new 'Watch' service in the hours before Snap was due to unveil its latest results.

The idea behind the new Facebook channel will be to encourage users to comment on shows and videos as they watch them, and then share them with their friends.

In a posting on his own Facebook page, founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said: 'Watching a show doesn't have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.

'That's why today we're launching the Watch tab in Facebook -- a place where you can discover shows your friends are watching and follow your favourite shows and creators so you don't miss any episodes.

'You'll be able to chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.'

Facebook users -- who number 2bn -- will have a 'Watch' tab on their feeds (the page where the posts of their friends are updated). They will also be able to create watch lists, see what their friends are watching, and communicate with other people interested in the same videos.

There will be sections such as 'Most Talked About', which highlights programmes that spark conversation, and 'What's Making People Laugh'.

Some of the shows will be funded by the social network, particularly if they are 'community orientated'. The intention is for the new feature to be rolled out in the US to begin with, before being extended. Facebook is ramping up efforts to get unique content on its site. It is working on a standalone app for video makers that would allow them to interact with viewers and, crucially, get analytical data on the shows and video clips they share. On top of this they will get 55pc of the revenue from adverts that play in their videos.

Facebook has enjoyed a stellar run this year, and shares are up 46pc since January.


(c)2017 the Daily Mail (London)

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