Keke Palmer, Angela Kinsey Developing Facebook Watch Series Through Incubation Program
The new funding program pairs talent with digital publishers like BuzzFeed and Conde Nast to develop series for Facebook's video platform.
Facebook is doubling down on its Watch video platform with an initiative designed to encourage more digital talent to create programming for its audience of more than 2 billion users.
The social network is pairing digital publishers like BuzzFeed and Tastemade with creators like Hannah Hart and Angela Kinsey to incubate new projects that will help seed Watch with the type of influencer-centric programming that is already rife on YouTube.
Among the early partnerships are a Conde Nast show with Keke Palmer and two Shots Studios projects with influencers Lele Pons and Rudy Mancuso. Publishers have the potential to work on multiple projects with Facebook, which is providing funding for the shows and licensing them for its video platform.
BuzzFeed is among the publishers with multiple projects in the works. It is working on a Tasty-branded series with lifestyle influencer Hart, an animated project featuring Cuppy the Good Advice Cupcake, a series for its As/Is and Cocoa Butter verticals with Quinta Brunson and Freddie Ransome and a Pero Like project with the stars of that video channel.
"Our new Facebook series are extensions of our BuzzFeed brands," said Thespi Guatieri, BuzzFeed's director of show development. "We are fusing the pop culture expertise of BuzzFeed with our creator networks to elevate our brands and engage our audience. We’re thrilled to take the natural next step with Facebook as our partner to expand the creator-first format across our brands."
Other publishers who have signed up for the program including All Def Digital (working with King Vader), ATTN:, Complex, Fullscreen, Studio 71, The Players' Tribune, Viacom and Whistle Sports.
John Shahidi, co-founder and CEO of Shots Studios, says that working with Facebook is appealing because of its broad, international reach. "It is a different audience than YouTube or Instagram," he says, adding that the program shows the value of highly produced programming. "There's only so much user-generated content we can consume," he says. 'We need more premium content. It's a great move for Facebook."
Since launching Watch in the summer of 2017, Facebook has worked with publishers and talent in a variety of ways, including fully funding originals like Jada Pinkett Smith's Red Table Talk and scripted drama Sorry for Your Loss as well as subsidizing the cost of producing some publisher-driven programming. The company said in December that more than 75 million people daily spend at least one minute on Watch. Digiday first reported about the existence of the program in February.