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This is why I won’t be installing Facebook’s new app for TV

Facebook will soon launch a TV app for Apple TV, Samsung Smart TVs and Amazon Fire TV, but do we really want or need Facebook on TV?

Published onFebruary 15, 2017

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So Facebook will soon be launching an app for Samsung Smart TVs, Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV (don’t ask me where the Android TV app is). Considering Facebook’s increasing focus on video content and Mark Zuckerberg’s belief that video is the future for the social platform, getting on the boob tube makes perfect sense. For Facebook. But as users, do we really want or need Facebook on our TV?

I’d argue we don’t. And my reasoning isn’t just because I’m old and grumpy (although I am that). Facebook wants you to install its new TV apps and consume more and more video content to ramp up its engagement figures and advertising revenue. This is Business 101. Which I don’t have a problem with.

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But if you think participating in Facebook’s attempt to make it onto the big screen in your living room is going to create something equally as great and creative as YouTube, you’re wrong. Yes, attracting more advertising dollars means better pay checks for content creators. But we all know this isn’t about getting creatives better salaries.

Facebook can act like it wants to generate more full-length creative video content for you, but ultimately it’s about Facebook creating more opportunities to sell advertising space. Sure, you might end up with better video content to watch, but you’ll absolutely be getting more video ads too.

Sure, you might end up with better video content to watch, but you'll absolutely be getting more video ads too.

Facebook argues that the move is to help folks that don’t have the time to watch a three-minute video sometime during the day and want to watch it later on TV. But we already have the ability to save videos for later on Facebook and if we really want to watch them on the big screen we can do so with a Chromecast. On our terms, without additional Facebook advertising.

But who really wants to settle in on the couch for the evening to watch three-minute Facebook videos interspersed with video ads anyway? Sure, if Facebook can encourage creators to make better videos for the Facebook platform, more folks might be inclined to do so (and ultimately, some competition for YouTube could only be a good thing). But why help duplicate what can already be hosted on YouTube just so Facebook’s investors can make more money? What do we get out of it that we can’t already do on our own?

Why help duplicate what can already be hosted on YouTube just so Facebook's investors can make more money?

YouTube never tried to shape itself into something watched on TV. That just happened organically. Facebook is not launching a TV app out of the goodness of its heart, out of some benevolent love of all things creative and entertaining. It’s just another cold business decision aimed squarely at figuring out how to squeeze even more money out of its users.

If you have no problem with that, then be my guest and please, install the app when it becomes available in the coming weeks. But I for one got so sick of the constantly worsening ratio of video ads to actual videos in the official Facebook app that I eventually gave up and switched to Swipe, just to avoid encouraging the situation to get even worse. Now, I have no problem with a company making money off providing a service, but it’s not like Facebook is having a rough time of it.

If Facebook can make a video platform to rival YouTube and do so with good rates of pay for creators and without an excessive amount of video ads, then I’m all for it. But the way things have been going with Facebook video ads I can’t see it happening (and Facebook video tends to be pretty rubbish in any case). No, if Facebook wants its TV platform to take off, then it needs to stop myopically focusing on making its service better for advertisers and start focusing on making it better for its audience instead.

Rant complete.

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