Facebook plans to spend up to $1B on original shows in 2018

Darrell Etherington
Facebook could spend as much as $1 billion to fund original content initiatives for its new Watch video platform, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal.

Facebook could spend as much as $1 billion to fund original content initiatives for its new Watch video platform, according to a new report from the Wall Street Journal. The amount might seem familiar – it's the same investment Apple is said to have earmarked for original shows and movies through 2018.

Facebook's spend could vary depending on the success of programming, but it's also a figure that extends through next year. This would also be a new high-water mark for Facebook spending on video content specific for its platform, exceeding past initiatives like incentives paid to encourage live streaming from media outlets.

Facebook launched Watch to all U.S. users this week – the new tab in the Facebook app houses original shows from Facebook partners, including content from Freethink Media, MLB, Discovery Channel and more. It's hoping to drive more engagement on the platform with its original video content initiative, and the shows resemble a lot of the videos that naturally receive a lot of interaction on the platform when shared, covering sports, science and other 'shareable' topics.

This kind of spending on original content, even if Facebook extends to the top end of its proposed budget, is still behind what dedicated companies like Netflix and Amazon spend on their own shows. But it's not far off from HBO's annual content creation spend, and could go a long way if Facebook is spending more of it on less ambitious programming relative to something like Game of Thrones.

Streaming platforms so far have shown that destination programming is key – Facebook's approach seems to be a blend of the Netflix and YouTube methods for obtaining said programming. Next year definitely sounds like it'll be interesting for the original content realm – should give us plenty to talk about.