Its no secret that Facebook could use some good P.R. right now—or, really, that the company has been starved for positive stories for a while. First, there was the revelation that the social network allowed fake news to run amok on its platform, almost certainly impacting the 2016 presidential election. Then came the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which revealed a massive privacy breach. Now, Facebooks user growth has slowed—almost certainly due to an erosion in the publics trust in the company.
But Facebook may be hoping youll forget all that, now that its licensed a trio of popular Joss Whedon productions: Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly, all of which are now available on demand through Facebook Watch.
As The Hollywood Reporter notes, licensing content marks a new shift in Facebooks streaming strategy—which, until now, consisted primarily of producing short-form series with its partners, as well as new scripted and unscripted series like the Catherine Zeta-Jones vehicle Queen America, and Sorry for Your Loss, starring a remarkable Elizabeth Olsen. It also coincides with this weeks launch of a new feature, Watch Party, which allows users to watch series together remotely through Facebook. In other words, it seems Facebook is hoping that if you spend a few hours watching old TV shows with friends, you might forget all about those unfortunate breaches of trust.
None of these deals are exclusive; all three of the series Facebook has acquired are already available on Hulu. Still, those who dont have a subscription will now be able to watch them for free on Facebook. And it seems that communal viewing might become a substantial piece of Facebooks content strategy going forward: “Our focus with Facebook Watch is on content and experiences that help people connect, ignite conversation, and build community,” Facebooks vice president of video, Fidji Simo, wrote in a blog post. “We think there is a range of content that can do this, and are excited to bring iconic pop-culture favorites like these series for their avid fan communities to experience them in new ways, and for new fans to discover these awesome 90s classics.”
None of Facebook Watchs original series have made much of an impact thus far, so licensing old content with a built-in audience is a logical move. Facebook also announced three Watch Parties with live comments—one for Buffy at 6 P.M. Eastern time on Friday, one for Angel at 3 P.M. on Saturday, and one for Firefly on Sunday at 3 P.M.
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