Social media giant Facebook has made a move into dedicated video, pitting it against YouTube and TV networks.
Users will soon see a new Watch tab that will offer a range of shows, some of which have been funded by the social network
Watch will be personalised so that users can discover new shows, based on what their friends are watching.
Viewers will also be able to see comments and connect with friends and dedicated groups for shows.
“Watching a show doesn’t have to be passive,” said the company’s founder Mark Zuckerberg in a Facebook post.
“It can be a chance to share an experience and bring people together who care about the same things.”
Video has been available on Facebook for some time, but until now, it has mostly been dominated by amateur clips or short segments from news organisations.
The world’s largest social network added a video tab last year, and has hinted for some time that it might make the move to producing original content.
Watch could open up new revenue potential for both Facebook and programme makers, while users can expect to see targeted advertising before and during the shows.
Facebook is entering an increasingly complex and crowded market, and will face competition from traditional TV networks as well as other online services like YouTube and Netflix.
Disney yesterday announced that from 2019, it will scrap its existing deal with Netflix and create its own direct-to-consumer streaming-video services.
It will also set up a sports-themed ESPN streaming service next year.
Facebook already has content lined up, including Major League Baseball, Women’s basketball, parenting shows and a safari show from National Geographic.
According to Reuters news agency, it has also inked deals with millennial-oriented media groups Vox Media, BuzzFeed, ATTN, Group Nine Media and others to produce shows.
Watch will have a limited release in the US before it is rolled out more broadly.