Facebook ready to make TV debut
Facebook.com, the social-networking Web site, said Tuesday it is moving into television by teaming up with cable operator Comcast’s online video site Ziddio to produce a new series from users’ clips called Facebook Diaries.
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The companies are enlisting Hollywood TV producer R.J. Cutler, to choose the best submissions and create 10 half-hour-long episodes that will be streamed online and on Comcast On-Demand. The program will start in March. Terms were not disclosed.
Online video is one of the fastest growing sectors on the Web and major sites including Google’s YouTube and News Corp.’s MySpace are investing heavily in building their video capacity. Analysts say there is high demand for online video inventory from advertisers.
Though 2-year-old Facebook is one of the biggest social-networking sites on the Web with more than 16 million users, this is the first major move it is making to push video on the site.
“We think the opportunity for our users to have their content shown on television is a real draw,” said Owen Van Natta, chief operating officer at Facebook.
Palo Alto, Calif.-based Facebook in September opened up its site beyond its original core of students to reach a wider audience and believes that exposure on television will raise the brand’s profile.
“The brand has always been associated with college students but we’re seeing from the growth of our users that the utility and value of Facebook is beyond that,” Van Natta said.
The partnership could also help raise the profile of Comcast’s Ziddio site with online users.
Ziddio was soft-launched last November as a site for uploading personal videos like YouTube. But Comcast hopes it will be differentiated from others by airing users’ best videos feature on Comcast’s TV On-Demand service. Both companies hope the partnership will attract advertisers.
“Working with Facebook is a terrific opportunity for sponsors who want to reach a youth demographic–it’s one that advertisers most want to reach,” said Liz Schimel, senior vice president entertainment, Comcast Interactive Media.