Hypothetical question: Assuming that Facebook wasn’t at once impressively incompetent, incredibly dangerous, and also, you know, evil, would you pay to watch some of your favorite movies or TV shows on its platform? Would you be willing to use your hard-earned money to transform Facebook into your one-stop-shop for devastating ennui as well as your favorite entertainment franchises like, say, Game of Thrones? Evidently this is the future that the company envisions for you, its devoted user.
Citing industry sources familiar with the matter, Recode reported Thursday that Facebook is hoping to pay streaming titans like HBO and Showtime to sell their products on its own platform, presumably via Facebook Watch. The media team behind Mark Zuckerberg’s video-hungry social media giant has reportedly been “discussing deals with HBO and others for months and would like to launch the product in the first half of 2019.” Per Recode:
Selling content or anything else to its users would be a significant change for Facebook, which has always kept its core service free and relies on advertising for almost all of its revenue. But sources say one of the reasons the company is interested in selling pay TV subscriptions is that the networks already spend lots of money advertising their services on Facebook. The logic: Instead of sending consumers who click on those ads outside of Facebook, the company could capture some of the revenue itself.
A Facebook spokesperson told Gizmodo by email the company had no comment on the report. A representative for HBO did not immediately return a request for comment.
Recode makes a great point that such an initiative is the next “logical” step in Facebook’s video evolution, even if the news comes amid a separate report from the Information that Facebook may be planning to trim its funding for some of the news programs on its Watch platform. It also makes sense that Facebook would want to compete with Amazon and other competitors who offer similar services.
But it’s also worth asking: Who the heck wants to pay money to stream their favorite shows on Facebook when they could use the very sites they’re paying for outside of social media? Does anyone really want to spend more time on a platform that continues to corroborate claims that it is morally bankrupt and aggressively bad? Much less one that’s considered selling access to user data?
If Facebook can’t woo its users with its free streaming of even critical darlings like Sorry for Your Loss or nostalgia heavyweights like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, how the hell does it expect to win them over by asking for their money?