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Facebook expects Watch to become ‘more mainstream’ in 2019

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he expects the Watch video platform to become “more mainstream” in 2019, adding that building new experiences is one of the company’s four priorities for the year ahead.

Speaking on Facebook’s fourth quarter and full year 2018 results call, Zuckerberg said that 400 million people use Watch every month and that people spend on average more than 20 minutes on Watch daily.

“This means we’re finding ways for video to grow outside of News Feed so it doesn’t displace the social interactions that people primarily come to our services for.”

The Facebook boss said that its two big focuses for Watch are to make sure that video consumption “isn’t all just passive” and to help encourage two-way interactions between viewers and content creators.

He name-checked Facebook’s Watch Party feature as one example of community-building around video content and said that monetisation for video makers would be an important way to drive the creation of engaging content.

“Right now, it looks like this is growing in a good direction,” said Zuckerberg. “It’s still very early, we’re still growing quickly from a small base, but it’s one of the things that I’m excited about for this year.”

Other new experiences that Zuckerberg said would roll out this across Facebook’s family of services this year are: payments on WhatsApp in some more countries; new shopping and commerce experiences on Instagram; and the launch of its Oculus Quest VR headset in spring.

Zuckerberg identified messaging as an area of growth and predicted that private sharing in groups and stories will become more central to the social experience as people opt to share less publicly.

“In Facebook, the way people experience groups and communities will continue to deepen,” he predicted. “We’re going to get to a point soon where people feel like Facebook is about communities as much as it’s about your friends and family – where almost everyone is in a group that is meaningful to them and that community is a central part of their experience.”

Alongside its mission to build new experiences that “meaningfully improve people’s lives”, Zuckerberg said Facebook’s other three priorities for 2019 are: to continue making progress on social issues; to keep building its business by supporting millions of mostly small businesses; and to communicate more transparently about “the role our services play in the world”.

Facebook’s fourth quarter revenues were up 30% year-on-year to US$16.9 billion while net income grew 61% to US$6.88 billion. Daily and monthly active users were each up 9% year-on-year to 1.52 billion and 2.32 billion respectively in December. Facebook estimated that around 2.7 billion people use its family of services each month across Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, or Messenger.

Facebook first revealed its 400 million people per-month Facebook Watch figure in December, when vice-president of video, Fidji Simo, said that 75 million people per day were watching at least one minute of content on the video platform.

Facebook rolled out Watch globally in August 2018, one year after it debuted in the US. It has been widely rolling out its communal viewing experience, Watch Parties, since last summer. According to earlier Facebook stats, Watch Parties receive eight times more comments than regular videos in groups.