FACEBOOK RIVALS YOUTUBE… LAUNCHES ITS OFFICIAL VIDEO PLATFORM CALLED ‘WATCH’.

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On Wednesday, Facebook officially announced its new video platform: Watch.

According to Director of Product Daniel Danker, “Many users want a dedicated place they can go to watch videos,”  Viewing videos predominantly in the core News Feed mixed in with other content isn’t a great solution, and Facebook knows it.

Watch will feature content from a wide range of creators and publishers, just like YouTube. There will be professionally produced shows, video content submitted by users, live broadcasts, and more.

The first batch of shows will include original content that TV has helped fund. We’ve been hearing about these plans for quite some time, including a recent report that these shows would be released in mid-August.

Facebook is hoping that it can make video-viewing more social, and wants to help build communities around shows. Watch is starting to roll out in the U.S., and will be available across Facebook’s mobile apps, desktop site, and dedicated smart TV apps.

In a facebook post by founder Mark Zuckerberg yesterday to announce the release he wrote:

” We believe it’s possible to rethink a lot of experiences through the lens of building community — including watching video. Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive. It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.

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That’s why today we’re launching the Watch tab in Facebook — a place where you can discover shows your friends are watching and follow your favorite shows and creators so you don’t miss any episodes. You’ll be able to chat and connect with people during an episode, and join groups with people who like the same shows afterwards to build community.

We hope Watch will be home to a wide range of shows — from reality to comedy to live sports. Some will be made by professional creators, and others from regular people in our community. We’re starting to roll out the Watch tab to a limited number of people in the US, and the plan is to bring it to more people soon. I hope you enjoy!”

The social media company has been working on its video strategy for several years, well before Snapchat even became popular. Even on Facebook’s very first public earnings call in July 2012, COO Sheryl Sandberg noted, “One thing to think about in the commerce area or in other areas like video is that our view of the world is things become increasingly social.” Facebook would soon begin to invest heavily in video infrastructure, while also acquiring smaller companies for video ad tech like LiveRail. If anything, Snap is copying Facebook here.