Facebook, Challenging TV and Web Rivals, Expands Live Video
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Facebook Inc. on Wednesday expanded its live video product, Facebook Live, giving the feature prominent placement on the app and rolling out features to make it easier for users to search and comment in real time.
The move is the biggest challenge yet by Facebook to online rivals, including Twitter Inc.'s Periscope live-streaming service, Snapchat's video features and Alphabet Inc.'s YouTube, as well as a challenge to broadcast television.
Live video is becoming a highly competitive feature on social platforms, with companies competing to stream major sports events and exclusive video components from high-profile events such as the Oscar and Grammy awards shows.
Advertisers are particularly attracted to video that reaches a younger audience.
Facebook Live offers streaming video in real time and was launched last year. On Wednesday, it added features, including a map of video streams around the world, expanded search and filters that echo those on other platforms. Videos can be turned into black-and-white shots, like on Facebook's Instagram, for instance, and soon users will be able to add doodles, a nod to a feature on Snapchat.
Product head Chris Cox hosted a live video session Wednesday to advertise the product, and said Facebook hopes it will be used for everything from intimate family moments, such as a baby's first steps, celebrity-hosted question-and-answer sessions and breaking news casts.
Facebook said it is paying some partners to use Live but would not say who they are. Re/code said Facebook is paying The New York Times, BuzzFeed and the Huffington Post to use Live. Thomson Reuters is also using the service, a company spokeswoman said.
Facebook's app now features Live prominently in the display bar for many users on iOS and Android across 60 countries.
While Facebook's News Feed has long had videos, largely shared from other websites such as YouTube, the company had not heavily pushed its own video products.
Its executives have, however, advertised the 1.6 billion-person social media site's video reach on earnings calls. Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg told investors in January that 500 million people watch videos on Facebook every day.
(Reporting By Yasmeen Abutaleb; Editing by Peter Henderson and Alistair Bell)