Facebook doesn’t only want to exist on mobile and desktop — It wants to run on every major digital device.
Furthering this vision, the company said on Tuesday it has built a connected video app for television. Facebook said it will roll out its new app in a few weeks for Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV and plans to make the app compatible with additional television set-top boxes over time. The new app will let users watch essentially any video on Facebook — whether it’s shared by a friend, recommended in news feed, or streamed live — on a bigger screen. Users can also use the app to watch videos they previously saved, shared or uploaded to the social network.
The app could be an important step in helping Facebook secure more advertising dollars bleeding out of the $70-billion U.S. television advertising market. Facebook’s app creates a new space for the company to show video ads, which are an increasingly important revenue stream for social media companies. And the service could eventually host longer, TV-like programming, which Facebook is reportedly considering licensing from media companies.
Facebook’s newest app highlights CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s intention to make the company “video-first.” Consumers’ appetite for video has been growing, which has made the format a rising priority at the company, both in terms of consumer features and ad products.
“I see video as a mega trend on the same order as mobile,” Zuckerberg said in a conference call with investors earlier this month. “That’s why we’re going to keep putting video first across our family of apps and making it easier for people to capture and share video in new ways.”
The company has been making video more prominent across its suite of apps. Facebook has aggressively marketed its live streaming tool, which launched widely early last year, and has been surfacing more videos on its photo-and-video sharing app, Instagram. Facebook has also been incorporating many of the most popular Snapchat video formats into its own apps. In the summer, Instagram launched a clone of Snapchat’s “Stories” tool for sharing chains of ephemeral photos and videos, and Facebook has been adding photo-and-video masks and filters to its main app.
The new video app isn’t the company’s first foray into television. Last year, Facebook made it possible for users to stream videos from the social network onto their TV through devices like Apple TV or Google Chromecast.
“A lot of people when they’re watching video in news feed during the day will save it for later, because they don’t have time to watch,” Facebook’s VP of partnerships Dan Rose said on stage at the Code Media conference. “Now it’s easy to watch on your TV if you want to do that. We want people to be able to consume content wherever they are – whether it’s on their phone, whether it’s on their computer — and TV is just another screen for that.”
Rose added that although Facebook is building products for TV, it will remain a “mobile-first company.” Currently, mobile ads make up about 84% of Facebook’s total ad sales. Facebook’s total ad revenue is expected to reach $33.76 billion this year, according to forecasting firm eMarketer, making Facebook the largest ad seller after Google.
“The products we build will always be oriented around the experience you have on a mobile device when you’re watching video,” Rose added.
Most of large marketers’ advertising dollars still typically go to television. Facebook has so far avoided pre-roll video ads, which are common on competing platforms like Google-owned YouTube. However, Facebook began testing “mid-roll” ads part way through live video streams last month.