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Facebook to launch ‘Watch’ for original videos in India by early next year

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Social media behemoth Facebook will launch its original video offering ‘watch’ in India by early next year. According to a report published in The-Ken, Watch will be rolled-out between January and March next year.

Launched in August this year, Watch features personalized recommendations of live and recorded shows to watch. It’s considered as YouTube’s competitor, with a focus on long-format, premium and professionally produced video content.

For launching Watch in India, Facebook has also been looking to hire a product marketing manager, strategic partner managers, and data analysts. As per Facebook’s career page -these roles are based out of Mumbai.

The launch of Watch appears to be well timed. With Jio’s effect and penetration of cheap 3G and 4G handsets consumption of videos in India has been witnessing a meteoric rise. Video is a major contributor to India’s overall internet traffic, with estimates around 50-75%. The premium video service will also help Facebook to monetise mid-roll ads.

Entry of Watch will make the already crowded digital video space more competitive. YouTube, Hotstar, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video are the other players operating in the space.

According to an eMarketer forecast by 2021, India will have nearly 300 million users on Facebook (287.6 million to be precise), out of which about 70% of them will access Facebook at least once a month.

Recent activities in OTT space

Over the past 18 months, the OTT space has been making headlines as competition intensifies. Last year, Netflix clinched a deal with Shah Rukh Khan’s production company Red Chillies Entertainment. The deal gives exclusive right to stream the superstars’ videos and movies on its network.  It also announced two new original series – ‘Selection Day’ and ‘Again’ for Indian audience.

Following Netflix’s move, earlier this month, Amazon announced a worldwide exclusive content deal with Bollywood star Salman Khan Ventures.

Meanwhile, home-grown production company – Balaji Telefilms is also planning to produce content exclusively for its digital subscription platform, ALT Balaji.

Besides Netflix, Amazon, Hotstar and ALT Balaji, Viacom 18 and Zee TV have also entered digital streaming space with Voot and OZee respectively.

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