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Facebook Watch: What you need to know about Facebook’s Netflix competitor

Nowadays, just about every tech titan has an on-demand video streaming service (or one on the way). Amazon has Amazon Prime Video, Apple is preparing to launch Apple TV+, and Facebook has Facebook Watch. Yep, you read that right — Facebook has a streaming platform of its own, and it’s filled to the brim with original content, with some network material thrown in for good measure. Here’s the low-down.

What is Facebook Watch?

Facebook Watch is an on-demand video service that specializes in original content, created in tandem with actors, celebrities, and influencers. The whole intention is to create content that’s shareable, material that people would become engrossed in and have to share with their friends — a bit like when you stumble upon a meme. And it’s with those social-driven views that the firm is hoping to turn a profit.

Unlike Amazon Prime Video and Netflix, Facebook Watch is free to use. The catch? It’s riddled with ads. That’s why Facebook is putting viral content first, teaming up with the likes of survivalist Bare Gylls and comedian Nicole Byer to churn out episodes of unique shows that have the potential to pop up everywhere as they garner comments, likes, and shares. The same applies to educational material.

That’s not to mean there isn’t network material on Facebook Watch, though — because there is. Back in November, the firm signed a deal with 20th Century Fox Television that saw Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Firefly added to its collection. Just don’t expect to fire it up and find top-tier titles like Breaking Bad, Chernobyl, Friends, and other cryptically-acclaimed material waiting for you. It’s free, after all.

Instead, you’re going to find dystopian fiction, hilarious comedies, and gripping documentaries on Facebook Watch — and that’s what it’s been designed to stock. It all comes back to the viral aspect; the material has been carefully curated, or commissioned, to drive a discussion, in order to fuel more views, and print more cash for the social behemoth, which aims to make $12 billion from the platform by 2022.

How do I use Facebook Watch?

You can tune into Facebook Watch on just about every device you can imagine, including Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, Android TV, and Samsung Smart TVs. It’s also available on Android and iOS. On the first wave of devices, you’re going to need to download the dedicated Facebook Watch client, whereas it’s a lot easier to access on Android and iOS — just fire up Facebook and head into the Watch section.

Once you’ve assembled your portal into the world of Facebook Watch, all that’s left to do is sign in to your Facebook account. Again, since you don’t need a subscription to view the content, you don’t have to hand over any credit card information. Just enter your email address or password — or create a Facebook account if you don’t already have one — then you’re ready to roll.

What shows are on Facebook Watch?

There’s a lot of material on Facebook Watch, with the most-raved-about offerings being Bear Grylls: Face the Wild, Humans of New York: The Series, Loosely Exactly Nicole, and The Mind of a Chef, but it’s a bit of a mixed bag —  you’ll have to spend some time digging through the catalog to find a gem that peaks your interest. For the monthly price of absolutely nothing, though, it’s well worth the digging.

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Josh Levenson
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