Facebook’s New Video Deals Show How Desperately It Wants to Be YouTube

By Mathew Ingram

Facebook may be the world’s largest social media platform, but there is one significant place where it still falls short: video. YouTube still holds the record in that category, with more than 1 billion hours of video watched every day—about 10 times what Facebook generates.
The giant social network didn’t get where it is by settling for second place in any market, however, and that has meant an unprecedented push by CEO Mark Zuckerberg into video in all forms.

The strategy began with a focus on streaming via Facebook Live, which launched last year, a feature that was aimed originally at celebrities and then expanded to include paying for live-streamed content from traditional media entities like the New York Times.

More recently, Facebook has moved aggressively into buying, commissioning, and licensing longer-form, more TV-style content.

There have been reports for some time that Ricky Van Veen—the CollegeHumor co-founder Facebook hired last year—was looking to sign deals with a wide range of media companies, TV networks, and individual artists for anything video related.

On Wednesday, some details of those arrangements finally came to light, when Reuters reported that the company has committed to buy or license both short-form and longer-form video programming from a number of players—including BuzzFeed, Vox Media, ATTN, and Group Nine Media, a New York-based outfit that owns short-form video producer NowThis.

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