Facebook bankrolling creation of its own video series, due later this year

Facebook has been hosting user-uploaded videos for a few years now, but the uploaded clips haven’t generated enough advertising revenue to treat the social network as a primary distribution outlet for premium video entertainment.

To revert that trend, Facebook has started to bankroll the creation of its own video series that’ll appear later this year via a new Video tab (also called Spotlight) that hasn’t been released yet.

A second tab is also in the works, devoted to the “more high-end programming”.

To help boost the initiative, the company has hired Ricky Van Veen, co-founder of comedy site College Humor, Netflix executive Sarah Madigan to acquire video programs and former MTV executive Mina Lefevre to oversee the development of new shows.

According to Bloomberg, the company “is closing deals” for its first batch of shows, including reality competition series “Last State Standing” and a second season of comedy “Loosely Exactly Nicole,” which first appeared on MTV.

Plus, the company is said to fund some exclusive “hero” shows with six-figure budgets: it’s reportedly willing to spend a couple hundred thousand dollars per episode.

An excerpt from the report:

Facebook is funding two kinds of programs — a handful of more expensive series from established TV producers that will take a few months to produce (hero shows, they are called) and a bunch of shorter, cheaper videos from publishers like Vox Media Inc. and BuzzFeed Inc. (called spotlight shows). All shows will be episodic and designed to spur conversation among Facebook users.

Facebook is giving publishers a minimum guarantee of $10,000 to $20,000 per spotlight show episode. After Facebook’s exclusive rights end, the videos can be made available elsewhere. The company will share ad revenue with the publishers, who can start to sell their own advertisements “after a brief period”.

Rather than compete directly with paid services like Netflix, HBO and Showtime, Facebook is targeting cable networks and ad-driven online services with young viewers in an effort to grab a slice of the massive $70 billion TV advertising market pie.

As per The Wall Street Journal, Facebook is paying pro video game teams and others in the eSports industry to broadcast on its service. The hope for Facebook is that funding video will prompt production firms and studios to upload premium video that could be monetized.

But make no mistake, Facebook’s end game is to “eclipse TV,” according to Matthew Segal, chief executive officer of ATTN, a digital media company that publishes video to Facebook.

“Not only do nearly 100 percent of people under 35 have an account, but they are spending over 1,000 minutes a month on Facebook,” said ATTN’s Segal.

Apple, too, is setting its sights on original video programming.

Earlier today, news broke that Sony Pictures Television presidents Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht are joining Apple to help accelerate its push into original programming. Earlier this month, Apple began airing “Planet of the Apps” to all Apple Music members via the Music app’s new TV & Movies section found under the Browse tab.