By Paul Sandle
LONDON (Reuters) – Facebook <FB.O> is rolling out its Watch video service globally one year after it launched in the United States with original entertainment news and sports content to compete with platforms like Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.
Facebook’s Head of Video Fidji Simo said Watch was gaining real momentum in a crowded marketplace because it was built on the notion that watching videos could be a social activity.
“Every month more than 50 million people in the U.S. come to watch videos for at least a minute on Watch, and total time spent watching video on Facebook Watch has increased by 14 times since the start of 2018,” she told reporters.
“With Watch … you can have a two-way conversation about the content with friends, other fans or even the creatives themselves.”
Facebook said eligible creators would be able to make money from their videos using its Ad Breaks service in Britain, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand as well as the United States from Thursday, with many more countries set to follow.
Simo said publishers were making “meaningful revenues” from its automated video advertising system on the platform, which has featured shows such as beauty mogul Huda Kattan’s “Huda Boss” and live “Major League Baseball” games.
“We know it’s been a long road but we’ve worked hard to ensure that the Ad Breaks experience is a good one for both our partners and our community,” she said.
Ad revenue will be split 55 percent for the content creator and 45 percent for Facebook, the same ratio as in the United States, Simo said.
Publishers need to have created three-minute videos that have generated more than 30,000 one-minute views in total over the past two months and must have 10,000 followers to participate in Ad Breaks, Facebook said.
Simo said Facebook was working on a variety of other options for creators to make money, such as branded content and the ability for fans to directly support their favourite creators through subscriptions.
“(Fan subscription) is something that is rolled out to a few creators now, but we are planning on expanding that programme soon,” she said.
(Editing by Kirsten Donovan)