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Facebook ‘in talks with TV networks’ about distribution via its apps

Facebook is in talks with premium pay TV networks to distribute their services via its own apps, according to a report by US news site Recode.

According to the report, Facebook is in talks with pay TV providers including HBO, Showtime and Starz to sell their services on its app, with viewers accessing the services via Facebook’s own properties – such as Facebook Watch – as well as via other platforms such as Roku TVs.

Recode suggests that Facebook may be trying to replicate the model developed by Amazon for its Amazon Channels service and cites unnamed sources who say that the new offering could launch in the first half of next year. Facebook would most likely agree to pay upfront for multi-year deals in exchange for a share of subscription revenue.

Facebook has struggled to some extent to realise its ambition to become a major video hub. In October, CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that while its Facebook Watch service was growing, the social network was still “well behind YouTube” as a video platform.

Zuckerberg said that users were not warming overmuch to video on its core platforms but appreciated dedicated video experiences such as Facebook Watch and Instagram’s IGTV.

He also admitted that video makes less money per minute for Facebook than “people interacting in feeds” – meaning that video growth could displace services that generate more revenue, unless Facebook finds new ways to make money from video.