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Facebook orders Norwegian teen drama, reveals plans for Watch

Ricky Van Veen

Ricky Van Veen

Facebook has ordered an English-language version of Norwegian broadcaster NRK’s online teen drama SKAM, to be made by Simon Fuller’s XIX Entertainment for Watch, Facebook’s new home for professional content, including scripted drama, which went live in the US a few weeks ago.

Speaking at MIPCOM in Cannes, Facebook’s head of creative global strategy Ricky van Veen said that Facebook planned to expand Watch and renewals of several series had been announced. The English-language version of SKAM is one of a number of series that will be launched on the platform, in part to stimulate other content creators to participate.

SKAM is a multi-platform teen drama that has become Scandanvia’s most successful TV hit of the last two years. It is written and created by Julie Andem and produced by NRK P3.

Despite investing in a content to showcase the platform, Van Steen played down the idea that Facebook would invest in Facebook-branded content. “Given that it is a platform I lean towards putting the focus on the creator or producer,” he said.

Daniel Danker

Daniel Danker

Speaking on the same keynote session at MIPCOM, Daniel Danker, Facebook’s director of video product, also played down Facebook’s role as a content creator in its own right.

“What we’re making here is a platform. We want anybody to be able to make a show and connect to audiences,” said Danker. He said publishers would be able to insert ads in their shows and get sponsorship, and that the vast majority of shows on the platform would be financed in this way. However, he said, Facebook is “seeding the platform” with a small number of shows to demonstrate what can be done.

Danker said Watch is “so new and recent that we need to learn from what we’ve rolled out” He said it was “too early” to say when it would be launched outside the US although this was “definitely” something Facebook wants to do.