Facebook Sets Out To Conquer TV Through A New App
Facebook TV lets users play video through more screens
Facebook is hoping to steal even more of your free time with the launch of Facebook TV, a new app which will bring the social network’s streaming video content to TV devices.
Though an exact date hasn’t been specified, the new app is expected to launch soon for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung smart TVs, with additional partners to follow.
The app will give users access to videos uploads by friends, as well as access to live streaming video. The app will also recommend what to watch next based on videos you’ve already viewed.
Facebook also announced Tuesday several other updates to videos on its mobile app, including the ability to browse your feed while simultaneously streaming video via a small thumbnail in the corner of the screen.
Videos on Facebook will now automatically play with sound on as default when your phone’s sound is on, and vice versa when your phone’s sound is off. Videos will also automatically expand to full-screen mode when users stop to view them.
These tweaks, however slight they may seem, serve to only further lure users into spending more time on the app. The company is currently locked in a battle for phone screens with Snapchat, the disappearing video app which Facebook sees as its chief rival in the mobile space.
Next month, Facebook will add Snapchat-style selfie masks in a camera-centric redesign of its app. This follows its move last year to introduce ‘Stories’ to Instagram, a near-copy of Snapchat’s disappearing video feature.
Facebook TV, meanwhile, comes as the social media giant pushes to become a video-first service. During the company’s Q4 earnings call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said video is “a mega trend on the same order as mobile,” and sees it as central to the company’s growth.
But while Facebook is eager to expand the scale of its video offerings, the company doesn’t see Facebook TV as a competitor to Netflix, at least not yet. Speaking at the Code Media conference Tuesday, Facebook VP of Partnerships Dan Rose still described the company as “mobile first.”
“A lot of people when they’re watching video in News Feed during the day will save it for later, because they don’t have time to watch,” he said. “Now it’s easy to watch on your TV if you want to do that. We want people to be able to consume content wherever they are—whether it’s on their phone, whether it’s on their computer—and TV is just another screen for that.”
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