Facebook Watch launched with a lot of hype and fanfare. It was to be a destination on Facebook where users would go to spend time with long-form video content. It was meant to be the type of place where viewing would be planned and programming would be sought out. Unfortunately for Facebook, Watch has yet to deliver. It hasn’t become a preeminent destination for users, and advertisers have responded in turn with low demand for advertising around Watch content.
Facebook hasn’t given up on Watch, but even more so, it’s not putting all of its hopes for a long-form video destination just in the Facebook platform. That explains its plans for Instagram.
Last week we found out that Instagram is working to launch a new video hub that would feature scripted shows, music videos and other vertical, full-screen content up to 60 minutes in length. Instagram’s approach at this time appears to be inspired by Snapchat Discover, which features exclusive content from publishers as well as original scripted content.
Many are speculating what Instagram’s plan really is. Is it competing with Snapchat with a Discover like section that features exclusive content? Is it competing with YouTube to become a destination for longer-form content? The answer is it’s competing with both.
Of course, it wants to steal share from Snapchat Discover and have content that attracts users to spend more time on its platform. But ultimately, Instagram’s competing with itself. Facebook has yet to make Watch a focus for users and advertisers.
Instagram has only grown stronger in recent months, overtaking Snapchat and in many ways overtaking Facebook from a user preference standpoint. It makes sense for Facebook to pin its ambitions for long-form video on its darling platform. Facebook doesn’t need Watch to work. It needs long-form video to work, and where it finds traction is inconsequential to Facebook.