Facebook has made its biggest move to compete in the television market by expanding its video offerings with programming ranging from professional womenâ€™s basketball to a safari show and a parenting programme.
Media reports hinted Thursday that the redesigned product, called â€œWatchâ€, will be available initially to a limited group in the United States on Facebookâ€™s mobile app, Website and television apps.
The company said the worldâ€™s largest social network added a video tab last year, and it has been dropping hints for months that it wanted to become a source of original and well-produced videos, rather than just shows made by users.
Media reported in May that Facebook had signed deals with millennial-focused news and entertainment creators Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to produce shows, both scripted and unscripted.
â€œWeâ€™ve learned that people like the serendipity-of-discovering-videos in News-Feed, but they also want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos,â€ Daniel Danker, Facebookâ€™s product director, said in a statement Thursday.
Chief Executive, Mark Zuckerberg, said in a Facebook post that Watch would allow users to â€œchat and connect with people during an episode and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build communityâ€.
Facebook said the shows would include videos of the Womenâ€™s National Basketball Association, a parenting show from Time Inc and a safari show from National Geographic.
Facebook is already broadcasting some Major League Baseball games and that would continue, the company said.
ATTN said Thursday that it had two original series coming to Facebook Watch, a health programme with actress Jessica Alba and a relationship advice show.
Eventually, the platform would be open to any show creator as a place to distribute video, Facebook said.
The company, based in Menlo Park, California, faces a crowded market with not only traditional television networks but newer producers such as Netflix Inc and Alphabet Incâ€™s YouTube as well as Twitter Inc and Snap Inc.