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Facebook is lifting the veil on its highly anticipated new slate of original news shows.
ABC News, CNN and Fox News are among some of the first partners who are producing shortform shows for the social networking giant’s Watch video tab. The first slate of seven shows includes projects from Advance Local, ATTN:, Mic and Univision.
These shows, the first batch of several news-focused video projects expected in the coming weeks, will be fully financed by Facebook, which has been cutting checks to a handful of media partners since last year to bulk up on original programming for Watch. They include projects from well-known journalists including Anderson Cooper, Shepard Smith and Jorge Ramos.
“The goal was to begin to experiment with new formats and new ways to engage with an audience that is unique to Facebook,” says Campbell Brown, who joined Facebook as head of global news partnerships last year. “Having partners — finding a diverse set of partners who are successful on Facebook now, doing quality news videos and who also really get how to engage with their audience — was important to us.”
The partnerships come amid heightened tensions between Facebook and its media partners, who have long relied on the social network as a distribution mechanism for their content. Earlier this year, Facebook said it would deemphasize content from big brands, including media companies, in favor of posts from family and friends. It also has come under fire for the rampant spread of fake news on its platform, resulting in a plan to prioritize local news and to rank news outlets based on their trustworthiness.
“There’s been an evolution in how we thought about news over the last year and a half,” Brown notes, explaining that Facebook has placed new emphasis on quality news and creating a destination for news.
Among this first group of shows is On Location from ABC News, a daily news show that will show journalists around the globe as they report on-the-ground about the headlines that drive the day. Fox News is also getting ready to launch Fox News Update, which will update frequently throughout the day with breaking headlines from Smith, Carley Shimkus and Abby Huntsman. Ramos, meanwhile, will travel the country to talk to immigrants in Univision’s Real America.
Cooper’s show, Full Circle, will be a vertically shot interactive program that will stream weekday evenings from New York City. Weekly show Undivided ATTN: will feature social influencers breaking down the biggest issues. And Chasing Corruption from Advance Local will shine the spotlight on some of the toughest watchdog journalists in America.
Talks between Facebook and its media partners about developing news shows for Watch have been underway for several months. Those conversations are said to have become tense at times and they worked through contract negotiations. WSJ reported May 31 that publishers are being offered between $1 million and $3 million for one-year contracts.
“There’s always a tension between a media company and a technology company around how we approach our work together,” Brown says. “We want to make investments in news partners who we know can be consistent over the long term but at the same time are willing to work with us to make whatever changes we need to make to get it right.”
These shows, and others announced in the coming weeks, are expected to debut later this summer. They will join a growing slate of entertainment originals developed for the Watch platform since its launch late last summer. Early originals have included Ball in the Family and Returning the Favor. Now, Facebook is placing an emphasis on greenlighting more scripted originals, including upcoming series such as Queen America, starring Catherine Zeta-Jones, and Sorry for Your Loss, starring Elizabeth Olsen.
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