Facebook has announced its first slate of news shows for Watch. The shows will be original and exclusive to Facebook. The first round of shows comes from ABC News, local newspaper chain Advance Local Attn, CNN, Fox News, Mic and Univision.
Some of the shows will feature big-name anchors like Anderson Cooper and Jorge Ramos, and they’ll vary in frequency and format. Other shows are to be announced in the coming weeks, including one from BuzzFeed.
Publishers that have produced shows for Watch, Facebook’s section for TV-like mini shows, have said most of the views they get for their Watch shows take place in the news feed, which suggests that people aren’t clicking over to the Watch section to seek out shows, but are passively watching them instead. Business Insider reported that some shows got viewer spikes early on, but those numbers subsequently fell sharply.
Facebook has faced severe criticism for letting fake news spread on the platform. The orchestrated announcement is clearly intended to send the message that Facebook sees news as important.
News isn’t the primary reason people go on Facebook, and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg himself has said that too often, watching video or reading news “is just a passive experience.” But Facebook still thinks there’s an ripe opportunity for news there. That will only happen if Facebook builds the habit of people coming to Facebook with the intent to watch programming rather than stumbling across video clips in their feeds.
Facebook also is emphasizing that these shows will encourage the audience to interact rather than just watch passively. CNN’s Anderson Cooper-hosted show, for example, plans to have ways to let the audience ask questions and vote, the broadcaster said.