Facebook is building a streaming TV app, report claims

A report in The Wall Street Journal claims that Facebook is developing a new platform aimed at TV streaming, which could aim to show exclusive content on pre-existing set-top boxes such as the Apple TV.

Sources told the paper that Facebook is talking to media companies about licensing shows to work with the app, as part of a larger push to make video a core part of its service.

There aren’t many specific details about the app, but it has allegedly been in development since last summer – and has been talked about for much longer. The idea is that the new platform will be more than a big-screen version of the standard Facebook app, and will instead emphasise longer video that could encompass sport, scripted shows and user-generated material.

The reason for all this would be advertising revenue. Facebook is running out of room to squeeze ads into its News Feed, and a TV app would allow it to sell advertising for a potentially higher price than display ads.

The report also matches a recent push within Facebook towards longer video content. The social network has been testing mid-roll video ads for clips that are longer than 90 seconds, and has tweaked its News Feed algorithms to reward longer videos.

In 2016, Facebook’s VP for EMEA, Nicola Mendelsohn, said she expected Facebook to be all-video within five years. “The best way to tell stories in this world – where so much information is coming at us – actually is video,” she said during Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit. “It commands so much information in a much quicker period, so actually the trend helps us digest more of the information in a quicker way.”

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