Facebook Watch heads to London to woo creators
James R | On 17, Feb 2019
Facebook Watch headed to London this week to step up its rivalry with YouTube.
This week saw VidCon arrive in the UK capital for its first ever event on British soil – a major sign of both the growing vlogging scene in the UK and the expanding ambition of the video industry, which needs not only viewers but also creators on board. YouTube, which has long been a dominant presence and lead sponsor at VidCon, remains in pole position – Kevin Allocca, Head of Culture and Trends, is delivering the Creator Keynote talk – but the social network and its fledgling Watch platform is accelerating its race to catch up.
In 2017, Facebook made a splash at VidCon in the USA, before going on to host its first Facebook Creator Day in LA last year. Now, with VidCon London running this weekend, Facebook paved the way by hosting a similar event for creators based in the UK and from other countries, running from 11th to 12th February.
At London’s ExCel centre, where VidCon is taking place, Facebook is also relying on self-help guru Jay Shetty to be its ambassador. Shetty is a featured speaker at the event, and says he has earned over $1 million in a year from his Facebook Watch videos, racking up over 4 billion views with his tips on wellness and self-love.
“Making wisdom go viral” is his slogan, and he told Variety in an interview that Facebook helped him to achieve it, because he had a community already built on the social network.
“Facebook is going through a growth phase,” he said. “They’re recognising the importance of creators and helping them grow. I lucked out with great timing.”
Facebook has certainly been widening its array of tools and features in the last 12 months, introducing Watch Parties to encourage group viewing among users, and also opening up its Ad Breaks revenue-share scheme to more creators. The aim is to attract creators with the promise of monetisation – a feature previously long missing from Facebook Watch – although there’s gate-keeping in force that may prove an obstacle for some. To join Ad Breaks, a creator has to have at least 10,000 followers on their page, and a minimum of 30,000 one-minute views on videos at least three minutes long in the last 60 days.
Patrick Walker, Facebook’s Director of Media Partnerships for EMEA, spoke to the industry this week at VidCon, alongside Shetty. Tellingly, that followed another talk from Instagram about its own plans for 2019 with video and IGTV. With Instagram and Oculus VR in its pocket, Facebook charm offensive certainly has the arsenal to turn some heads. Presuming VidCon London returns again in 2020, who knows how much the landscape might have changed by then?