Facebook Is Ready To Replace TV News

A new deal with ABC says a lot about where the social network is going.

19/07/2016 5:39 AM AEST | Updated 19/07/2016 5:39 AM AEST
Spencer Platt via Getty Images
A new partnership will bring 24/7 live election video to Facebook from ABC News.

For some, scrolling through a Facebook News Feed is the modern day equivalent of clicking through television channels with a remote control. 

That analogue is about to become a bit more explicit: ABC News announced Monday morning that it will use the social network to stream live video coverage of the 2016 presidential election 24 hours a day during the Republican and Democratic National Conventions

ABC will program video content specifically for audiences on Facebook. On Monday, for example, ABC’s “This Week” broadcast a live, 12-minute interview with Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” via the social network.

Variety has more details on how this new streaming project will work:

ABC News ... said it will have 24-hour live coverage across a variety of [Facebook] pages. Throughout each day and between the speeches in primetime, ABC News’ curated Facebook feed will provide live video of on-the-scene interviews, protests and other breaking news.

Facebook has partnered with media brands before. After it launched its live video platform, it paid several outlets ― including The Huffington Post ― to use its new feature to broadcast original footage. ABC News did not respond to an email from HuffPost asking if Facebook was paying for this coverage.

But such a robust commitment ― 24-hour live coverage ― is remarkable either way.

“The ABC deal is one of the most ambitious yet, and suggests that you’ll want to turn to the internet first if you want the most thorough examination of the electoral process,” Engadget’s Jon Fingas wrote.

If you’re reading HuffPost, odds are pretty good that you acknowledge the internet’s place in the news cycle. But most people in the United States still believe television is the most useful source for election news, according to a recent survey from the Pew Research Center. While millennials are more likely to rely on social media, everyone else places greater stock in cable TV, and Americans over the age of 49 are also bigger fans of local TV and network nightly news:

In essence, Facebook is proving it can provide a valuable service to those people by plunking live video from ABC in their News Feeds. Of course, you’ll need to “like” ABC News on Facebook first, though several million people do already.

If the model catches on, scrolling through Facebook could easily feel like flipping through channels, with multiple brands ― and individuals ― providing live video coverage. One Facebook executive has already said the platform could be “all video” within five years.

And, yes ― commercials will be included, too.

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