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Facebook Greenlights 2 Original Series in Move Into Video

12 Jul, 2017 By: Doug McPherson


MENLO PARK, Calif. – Facebook’s move into video content has taken a serious turn, as the company has now officially greenlit two new original series.

“Returning the Favor” features Mike Rowe traveling the country searching for community do-gooders and spotlighting their contributions. One episode will feature a motorcycle mechanic who runs an operation helping vets with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The second project is a yet-to-be-titled docuseries about the Ball family, whose sons Lonzo, Liangelo, and LaMelo have taken the basketball world by storm. The Los Angeles Lakers chose Lonzo Ball, who starred as a freshman at UCLA last season, as the No. 2 pick in the NBA Draft last month. Liangelo and LaMelo are standouts at Chino Hills (Calif.) High School.

The number and length of episodes of both series is still to be determined.

The social giant plans to release several different tiers of original programming, the highest of which could include shows with budgets of up to $3 million per episode.

Deadline.com reports that Facebook began its move toward video last year when Ricky Van Veen, founder of CollegeHumor.com, moved from IAC/InterActiveCorp, the media and Internet company, to Facebook to become its head of global creative strategy.

Deadline.com also notes that Facebook is looking to seed an ecosystem of creators with the long-term goal of having partners make their own shows that a community can be built around. The company has been testing a new self-service tool called Audience Direct that lets publishers sell video ad space directly to advertisers using Facebook’s people-based advertising platform. The new series demonstrate the type of content that Facebook believes would do well on such platforms.

Nick Grudin, vice president of Facebook’s media partnerships, said the goal is to make Facebook a “place where people can come together around video.”

He added that to do that, Facebook is supporting a small group of partners and creators “as they experiment with the kinds of shows you can build a community around – from sports to comedy to reality to gaming. We’re focused on episodic shows and helping all our partners understand what works across different verticals and topics. We’re funding these shows directly now, but over time we want to help lots of creators make videos funded through revenue sharing products like Ad Break.”

Facebook is also considering streaming live sports events like pro soccer. Execs believe that could allow the company to better connect with younger audiences and, in turn, drive up advertising revenues.


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