Facebook Video Needs to Take the Last Hill

Facebook is the world’s largest and most recognizable social network, but it’s fast on its way to becoming its foremost video power. With ad dollars flowing from broadcast TV to the Internet, Facebook, already an advertising behemoth, is cashing in.

The rise of Facebook video has been meteoric. At the start of the year, users were consuming 100 million hours of video a day. At a recent conference in London, Nicola Mendelsohn, head of Facebook’s Europe, Middle East and Africa operations, proclaimed that “in five years Facebook will probably be all video.”

Brands have embraced native Facebook videos and are awarded by higher engagement (in large measure because Facebook manipulates its algorithm to reward those who follow its corporate direction). Meanwhile, Facebook has been aggressive in building out its native video capabilities. Since adding support for video, it’s been incentivizing original content producers (a la YouTube) with a percentage of advertising revenues. It has also embraced new formats, such as live streaming and 360-degree/Virtual Reality video (in fact, over 1 million people have viewed Facebook 360-degree video in a Samsung Gear VR headset). Facebook recently invested $50 million dollars on 140 media companies, such as the New York Times and CNN, to produce original videos for the social network.

Facebook’s video has gone from strength to strength, so what’s next? The next logical move would be to give Facebook video consumers a chance to access content in the best possible setting: on the TV, in the form of a dedicated Smart TV app. There’s ample precedent for this. Facebook created a separate app for its Messenger capability, allowing users to make voice calls and send text messages to one another outside of Facebook.

Spinning out a dedicated Facebook video app for Smart TVs would give the company another platform to monetize and grow engagement. It would encourage more established video brands to upload high quality, long form content—the kind that’s ideal for the big screen and (potentially) big ad dollars. It would also ensure that Facebook has a seat at the table where its competitors are already dining—all of the major streaming services have Smart TV apps and with TV households increasingly taking advantage of these apps, Facebook has a huge opportunity to push its video business over the last hill left to conquer.