If there's one thing that is admirable about Facebook is the fact that the social networking giant keeps coming up with new stuff to keep its users hooked and expand into wider horizons. One of Facebook's most recent efforts in this line of thought is launching its own TV-like shows.

The Mark Zuckerberg led company is planning to debut its first slate of programming in mid-June this year and have roughly two-dozen shows for the initial push, said a recent report in the Business Insider (BI). In fact, the company has already given a go-ahead to multiple shows for production. One of the shows that Facebook has greenlit is a virtual reality dating show from Conde Nast Entertainment in which people go on first dates in Virtual Reality before they meet in person.

The responsibility to score exclusive, gripping shows has been given to Ricky Van Veen, who Facebook brought onboard in December as its global creative strategy chief. The CollegeHumor cofounder and has his team has been meticulously at work meeting production companies and hearing back-to-back pitches for 5-30 minutes episodic shows. According to the BI report, these shows are supposedly going to live in a revamped version of the social networking giant's popular video tab.

According to the BI report, Facebook has decided to have its shows in two distinct tiers: a lower tier for short, less expensive shows of around 5-10 minutes in length that would refresh every 24 hours, and a marquee tier for a few longer, big-budget shows that would give viewers the same feel as watching television at home. For the higher tier, the shows being pitched to Facebook are at par with the caliber of shows like "House of Cards" and "Scandal." As for the lower tier, Facebook is leaning towards production budgets that fall in between the budgets of TV shows and digital shows, something almost similar to the shows that are being currently show on Verizon's go90 service.

According to industry experts, Facebook's new initiative translates to the social networking giant playing a much greater role in controlling the content that appears on its social network, which currently boosts of over 2-billion users from all around the world. What is interesting to note is the fact that Facebook decided to come up with its own TV shows when some of its closest internet rivals like Snapchat, YouTube and Amazon are fighting out with each other to score their own premium video programming.

Tap The Younger Audience

While overall the shows are going to be of a general appeal, but the one age segment that Facebook is really looking to tap through the shows is that of teens, who are currently obsessed with Facebook's rival Snapchat. Facebook plans to get some teen-centric shows that will get youngsters to the platform and help them in increasing their demographic. Apparently, Snapchat is also vying for the same shows/production houses as Facebook for its Discover section. So, the race is currently on.

In addition to the teen-centric shows, one other segment that Facebook is actively pursuing is sports. The company is reportedly in talks with the MLB for the same. In one of the recent earnings call, Zuckerberg has stated that the sports is something that the company surely wants to give a try at some point.

The Ad Factor

According to the BI report, Facebook has decided to follow YouTube's steps on monetizing its original shows through mid-roll ads. YouTube recently unveiled its plans to fund a slate of original shows starring celebrity biggies like Ellen DeGeneres, Kevin Hart, and Katy Perry, which will be supported by ads and available for anyone to watch.

Facebook has been testing the ads model for quite a few months with a some publishers in its live and recorded videos section, but it hasn't made the format widely available till now.

According to the BI report, Facebook intends to move towards a revenue-sharing model for scripted shows through mid-roll ads. In fact, the company has already started buying the rights of some of the shows it is interested in upfront, so that it can regain its costs through mid-roll at a later stage.

One of the main challenges that Facebook has to figure out right now is why would users seek out longer shows in the social networking app's video tab. The standalone video app that Facebook released for the Apple TV and other set-top boxes in March this year could also feature its original shows.

Zuckerberg during Facebook's last earnings call with investors explained that the social networking giant's initial goal is to create some anchor content that would help Facebook users learn that the app's video tab is a great destination to explore and watch content-rich videos. According to Zuckerberg, once this is achieved, it will focus on its long-term goal that is not to pay for the content, but do a revenue share model once the whole economy around video is successfully established on Facebook.

Facebook is planning to debut its TV-like shows in time for the Cannes Lions advertising festival, which begins next month on June 17.

[Top Image: Indian Express]

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